The Science Behind Vampires: How Blood May Keep You Young.

[DIGEST: Stanford Medicine News, The Guardian]

By year’s end, we may learn whether injecting old people with blood from young people can improve their memory and even reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Last year, the Stanford Medicine New Center reported that a team of medical researchers, led by neurologist Dr. Tony Wyss-Coray, infused old mice with blood plasma from younger mice and then examined the subsequent behavior of the old mice and any ensuing changes in their brain structure. After the “young blood” infusion, the older mice showed marked improvement in both learning and memory tests, and a detailed analysis of their brain structure showed changes in the hippocampus–the area of the brain responsible for memory–that suggested improved activity and nerve regeneration.

Second Nexus
via Flickr user Andrew Mason

According to an article in The Guardian, Dr. Wyss-Coray launched an experiment to test a similar procedure on people in October of 2014, and the results are expected later this year. If it works on people as well as it worked in rats, it will be a dramatic and important leap forward, not only for the treatment of diseases like Alzheimer’s, but for our understanding of aging itself.

“This opens an entirely new field. It tells us that the age of an organism, or an organ like the brain, is not written in stone. It is malleable. You can move it in one direction or the other,” says Wyss-Coray. “It’s almost mythological that something in young organisms can maintain youthfulness, and it’s probably true.”

“Why is it always blood?”

In the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, there is an episode where the characters discover that the ritual they need to solve their latest supernatural dilemma requires blood.

Xander, a human, is grossed out. “Why blood?” he asks in disgust.

Spike, the series’ big bad vampire, explains: “It’s always got to be blood. Blood is life. Why do

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