Is it ethical to purchase the blood of young people to improve your own health? | The Tylt

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Is it ethical to purchase the blood of young people to improve your own health?

The startup, Ambrosia Medical, is named after the "drink of the Gods." According to Metro's Jeff Pearson: 

It charges volunteers $8,000 (£6,000) to participate in the trail for one litre of blood and the company says it has hundreds of inquiries.

Ambrosia is confident that it can prove filling old veins with the blood of the young and energetic is worthwhile. As Pearson points out, studies have shown the practice leads to better health in mice, reporting a "rejuvenating" effect: 

In previous research, scientists from California biotech company Alkahest injected the blood of 18-year-old volunteers into year-old mice (the equivalent of being 50 in human terms. The researchers found that the young human blood made the mice ‘act young’ – running around in open spaces more.

But according to some experts, Ambrosia's test is nothing more than a scam. Technology Review's Amy Maxmen reports: 

Several scientists and clinicians say Karmazin’s trial is so poorly designed it cannot hope to provide evidence about the effects of the transfusions. And some say the pay-to-participate study, with the potential to collect up to $4.8 million from as many as 600 participants, amounts to a scam.

According to Maxmen, the mice studies that Karmazin claims as inspiration for his human experiments have conflicting results; different research groups were unable to replicate the results of their predecessors. It should also be noted that Karmazin has an MD but no license to practice medicine. 


Karmazin claims that patients who have recieved "young blood" transfusions are seeing miraculous results. According to Medical Xpress, Ambrosia has done it's research.

Ambrosia's scientists examined the levels of various molecules, believed to be predictive of cancer or Alzheimer's disease, in the blood of people who had been treated...They found that those who had been treated with young blood had lower levels of several proteins known to be involved in disease, namely carcinoembryonic antigens (which increase in cancer patients) and amyloid (which forms plaques in the brain in Alzheimer's disease patients).

And you can't deny the proof that's been found in some of the young blood transfusion studies conducted on mice. There's enough evidence to warrant the steps Karmazin and the Ambrosia team are taking to bring this practice to the people:

In 2014, researchers Saul Villeda, Tony Wyss-Coray and their team found that exposing an old mouse to young blood can decrease apparent brain age. The effects were seen not only at the molecular level, but also in the structures of the brain, and in several measures of learning and memory.

Blood transfusions make sense when a patient has lost a significant amount of blood, but to conduct such a procedure unnecessarily will undoubtedly have consequences. Technology Review's Maxmen says the risk is the ultimate question when it comes to the ethics of Ambrosia's ongoing procedure:

Although blood transfusions are considered safe for people who need them to survive, side effects can include hives, lung injury, or even deadly infections. 

Furthermore, any medical practice that takes from the young and gives to the old should be immediately questioned. Although the benefits of youthful blood are being tested elsewhere, they are in regards to treating things like Alzheimer's and other degenerative diseases. The questionable practices of Ambrosia's study–such as not supplying a control variable–delegitimize its scientific efforts.

Some have compared the study to "capitalistic vampirism."


Furthermore, where is Ambrosia getting its blood? According to HuffPost's Dana Liebelson and Jesselyn Cook:

HuffPost found that at least some of Karmazin’s young plasma came from a nonprofit blood bank in Texas that recruited teenage donors for 'saving lives,' but noted on a consent form that their blood components could also be used for 'any other medical purpose.'

The treatment remains unproven, and Karmazin is able to swerve typical barriers set by the FDA because blood transfusions are already approved; Ambrosia's practice is simply an off-label treatment. Ambrosia is spinning a story that might lead the desperate to risk everything they have in the name of health, to no avail. The study is unethical at almost every level. 


Even so, Ambrosia has seen so much interest in the transfusions, that it has had to create a waitlist. Business Insider's Erin Brodwin reports: 

There appears to be significant interest: since putting up its website last week, the company has received roughly 100 inquiries about how to get the treatment, David Cavalier, Ambrosia's chief operating officer, told Business Insider.
'So many people were reaching out to us that we wanted to make a simple way for them to be added to the list,' Cavalier said.

If people are willing to participate, there is no problem with finding more information about what youthful blood can do for the body.

Is it ethical to purchase the blood of young people to improve your own health?
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