Rats Find the Fountain of Youth


Photo courtesy of scicurious.scientopia.org

According to a study conducted by researchers at Harvard University, rats may just have found the fountain of youth.  Scientists injected older mice with the blood of younger mice, and what they found is astonishing.  After the young blood was injected into the old mice, the brain and muscles started to show improvement in function.  They also found that after four weeks neurons and muscle tissue were being produced.  They then took the old mice that were injected with young blood and compared them to control old mice while they performed various tasks like maze navigating, and running on a treadmill.  The old mice easily outperformed the control group.  When the reverse happened, and young mice were injected with old blood, there seemed to be reverse effects.  The young mice seemed to reverse in aging.

While animal studies are almost always intriguing with new and interesting ideas, it is hard to say that the implications that this has on human beings is reliable.  There is always the possibility of chance, and with more studies in the future, I think there could be some reliable data for rats.  For humans however I think that is a completely different story.  There is also the problem of third-confounding variables.  What were the living conditions like for the rats?  Their diets?  There may also be complications with their genetic predispositions.  I do however like the use of a control group to compare the injected mice with.  I don’t think there is a problem with reverse causation however, because the control group helps to eliminate that problem.

This study may be a breakthrough for mice, but when it comes to the implications it has on humans, I think there is much left to be desired.

Works Cited:

“New Studies Show That Young Blood Reverses the Effects of Aging When Put into Older Mice.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2014. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/new-studies-show-that-young-blood-reverses-the-effects-of-aging-when-put-into-older-mice/2014/05/04/1346baac-d2eb-11e3-8a78-8fe50322a72c_story.html>.

7 thoughts on “Rats Find the Fountain of Youth

  1. Alison B Mamtsis

    This immediately made me think of Tuck Everlasting! (that book we had to read in middle school where the family lives forever because they have a fountain of youth) It’s super interesting that the rats had improved functions, but i’m curious what about the younger blood caused this? I’m curious if when people are given blood donations or organ donations that their body works better or worse depending on how old the donor was? Also, I’m super curious about what happened to the rats in the long run: How long do the effects last? Does it increase their life span? are there any negative effects? This is super interesting and i hope more studies are done in the future!

  2. Asia Grant

    Your title really caught my eye and made me stop and read what you had found, but overall I find the concept rather believable. As we age, our body and all of its functions get weaker–including the blood, which job is to deliver oxygen throughout the body. So when I read your blog, it made sense that the younger blood cells were able to deliver oxygen more efficiently, which is why the brain and muscles responded in the ways that they did. This also leads me to believe that this could potentially work for other mammals.

    However, I wouldn’t call it the “fountain of youth”–just better efficiency. If you want to try and figure out organisms that seem to live forever look at some of these plants. Maybe you’ll find something that they all have in common that allows them to live for so long.


  3. Rachel M Arndt

    This post was extremely interesting. I had no idea something like this was even attainable. I think it is a scary line of research to do. The wrong people could try to make other species like humans live forever. I wonder how much science like this is helping us or potentially hurting us. Plus, why do we need mice to live longer anyway?

  4. Patrick Mansfield

    I found this post extremely interesting and surprising. I had always thought that this concept of “injecting young blood” into older people was just what happened in science fiction and horror films. However, your post got me wondering, would using stem cells in humans have this same effect? If so, I think that using stem cells would be highly more ethical than the blood of young humans.

  5. Alex Victor Hatala

    I can easily see why you are so skeptical of this study. I mean, how can it be that easy to makes old rats act young again. Yet, I find it hard to believe that there were any confounding variables, or that this was due to chance. The rats live in a lab, and they all share the same living conditions, as well as eat the same foods. But like you said, I am incredibly interested to see if this would work with humans. Would it be possible for me to give my blood to a senior citizen and have them act younger? That would be simply astonishing to see.

  6. ram5928

    This is a very interesting blog. I am confused though, because humans donate blood to others all the time. If a child is given blood from someone older, would they live a shorter life? If this was true, I doubt that young children would be able to constantly donate their blood to the old because it does not seem ethical. It is also not ethical to mess with life and its natural processes. It is a very interesting blog, but it is also scary to think about.

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