Research on Aging: Blood and Hormones

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Dr. Kathy Maupin and Dr. Brett Newcomb discuss recent research on aging that involved the transfer of blood cells between older and younger rats. They also discuss the implication of these recent scientific discoveries and advancements in the field of aging.

Recently, an article was published in the Washington Post about scientists creating a skin bond between an old rat and a young rat in the lab. This connection allowed both of them to share the blood supply of the other. Interesting things began to happen within a matter of days. The younger rat began to show some of the signs of aging, and the older rat began to show improvement in cognitive function, muscular regulation, and hair growth. The old rat looked and acted younger, and the young rat began to age!

This is so fascinating because it raises questions that must be answered. So far, the research has not been applied to humans, but plans to begin human testing are being made. The humans to be tested will be victims of Alzheimer’s disease. Before they test on humans, they will have to design the protocol and ask the questions that they want answered. These questions include whether or not beginning to dose older people with younger blood will require donors to be close relatives of the patient. If this treatment is begun, must it be continued in order to maintain any progress that is made? Can some element of the blood be extracted and identified as the aging or anti-aging ingredient and can that ingredient be synthesized in the lab? And, most important for us is the question of whether or not that potential aging element in the blood is hormonal. If it is hormonal, can we further identify the key hormone?

There is a lot of data that suggest that the hormone involved may be testosterone. Testosterone is the first hormone to fall in the aging process. Once your body begins to decline in its testosterone production, you begin to experience various symptoms, illnesses, and diseases associated with aging. We have learned by replacing the testosterone to “normal young” levels for most men and women that we can positively impact a patient’s ability to resist or avoid these symptoms of aging. We think that this rat blood experiment will be helpful in narrowing down the process and identifying the key hormonal elements more clearly. From it, we hope to learn how to tailor the process to target specific illnesses and specific body elements that can benefit from hormonal (i.e. testosterone) replacement. If we can do that then we can tailor specific treatments to maximize the benefits for our patients.

Watch this podcast to learn more about the fascinating research, as we discuss this experiment and others that are opening new doors of scientific knowledge about the aging process and our health.

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