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Ambrosia: ‘Young blood’ transfusions launching first clinic



bloodGetty Images/Joern Pollex

  • A startup called
    Ambrosia Medical
    that charges $8,000 to fill your veins
    with the blood of young people plans to launch its first clinic
    in New York City at the end of this year.
  • Founded by Stanford graduate Jesse Karmazin, the
    company recently completed the
    first clinical trial
    designed to assess the benefits of
    young blood transfusions.
  • Although his team has not yet published the results of
    the trial, Karmazin said the results were “really

To startup founder and Stanford Medical graduate Jesse Karmazin,
blood is the next big government-approved drug.

Karmazin recently launched
Ambrosia Medical
— a startup that fills the veins of older
people with fresh blood from young donors — in the hopes that the
procedure will help conquer aging by rejuvenating the body’s
organs. The company plans to open its first clinic in New York
City by the end of this year, Karmazin told Business Insider.

In 2017, Ambrosia enrolled people in the
first US clinical trial
designed to find out what happens
when the veins of adults are filled with blood from the young.

While the results of that study have not yet been made public,
Karmazin told Business Insider the results were “really

Because blood transfusions are already approved by the Food and
Drug Administration, Ambrosia’s approach has the green-light to
continue as an off-label treatment. 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. That led to the creation of the company’s
first waiting list, Cavalier said.

“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.

With that in mind, Cavalier and Karmazin are currently scouting a
number of potential clinic locations in New York City and
organizing talks with potential investors. They hope to open the
facility by the end of this year.

“New York would be the flagship location,” Karmazin said.

The first clinical trial of its kind

red blood bag transfusion donation GettyImages 115577838
A bag of red blood

Joern Pollex/Getty

Because blood tranfusions are already approved by federal
regulators, Ambrosia does not need to demonstrate that its
treatment carries significant benefits before offering it to

So far, the company has already infused close to 150 patients
with the blood of young donors, Cavalier said. Of those, 81 were
participants in their
clinical trial

The trial, which involved giving patients 1.5 liters of plasma
from a donor between the ages of 16 and 25 over two days, was
conducted with physician David Wright, who owns a private intravenous-therapy center
in Monterey
, California. Before and after the infusions,
participants’ blood was tested for a handful of biomarkers, or
measurable biological substances and processes that are thought
to provide a snapshot of health and disease.

People in the trial paid $8,000 to participate. The company
hasn’t settled on a commercial pricetag for the procedure,
Karmazin said.

“The trial was an investigational study. We saw some interesting
things and we do plan to publish that data. And we want to begin
to open clinics where the treatment will be made available,”
Cavalier said.

Karmazin added that the trial showed the treatment to be very

“The safety profile was essentially perfect, or as good as plasma
transfusions are,” Karmazin said.

Young blood and anti-aging: Are there any benefits?

Karmazin is right about the safety of blood transfusions and
their capacity to save lives. 

A simple blood transfusion, which involves hooking up an IV and
pumping the plasma of a healthy person into the veins of someone
who’s undergone surgery or been in a car crash, for example, is
one of the safest life-saving procedures available. Every year in
the US, nurses perform about 14.6 million of
, which means about 40,000 blood transfusions happen on
any given day.

But as far as young blood is concerned — and its alleged
potential to fight aging — the science remains unclear.

“There’s just no clinical evidence [that the treatment will be
beneficial], and you’re basically abusing people’s trust and the
public excitement around this,” Stanford University
neuroscientist Tony Wyss-Coray, who led a 2014 study of young
plasma in mice,
recently told Science magazine

Karmazin is still optimistic. He got the idea for his company as
a medical student at Stanford and an intern at the National
Institute on Aging, where he watched dozens of traditional blood
transfusions performed safely.

“Some patients got young blood and others got older blood, and I
was able to do some statistics on it, and the results looked
really awesome,” Karmazin told Business Insider last year. “And I
thought, this is the kind of therapy that I’d want to be
available to me.”

So far,, no one knows if young blood transfusions can be reliably
linked to a single health benefit in people.

Karmazin said “many” of the roughly 150 people who’ve received
the treatment have noted benefits that include renewed focus,
better memory and sleep, and improved appearance and muscle tone.

But it’s tough to quantify these benefits before the study
findings are made public. There’s also the possibility that
simply traveling to a lab in Monterey and paying to enroll in the
study could have made patients feel better.

Studies in mice don’t necessarily translate to results in people

Karmazin was inspired to create his blood infusion
treatment after seeing seeing several mouse studies that involve
parabiosis, a 150-year-old
surgical technique
 that connects the veins of two living
animals. (The word comes from the Greek words para,
or “beside,” and bio, or “life.”)

, a bioengineering professor at the University of
California at Berkeley who pioneered one of these parabiosis
studies in mice in 2005, found
evidence that the exchange had done something positive
the health of the older mouse who received the blood of the
younger mouse. But the animals weren’t simply swapping blood —
the older rodent was also reaping the benefits of the younger
one’s more vibrant internal organs and circulatory system.

In other words, the researchers couldn’t say for sure
whether it was the blood itself that was doing the apparent
reviving or if the fact that the animals were linked in other
ways was responsible for those perceived benefits.

In 2016, Conboy and her team ran another study
to see what would happen if they merely exchanged the
rodents’ blood
without connecting their bodies in
any way. They found that
while the muscle tissue in the older mice appeared to
benefit slightly from the younger blood, they still couldn’t say
for sure that these modest benefits were coming from the young
blood itself. After all, the experiment had also fundamentally
changed the older mouse blood by diluting it.

“The effects of young blood on old tissue seems to be
rejuvenating; however, there is no concrete evidence that young
blood is what is causing the change in results. It may very well
be the dilution of old blood,” Ranveer Gathwala, a UC Berkeley
stem-cell researcher in Conboy’s lab who co-authored the
2016 paper, previously told Business Insider.

Nevertheless, Karmazin remains hopeful that the benefits he said
he’s witnessing are the result of young blood transfusions.

“I’m really happy with the results we’re seeing,” he said.

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