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Elder Orphans' Documents

A Creepy Vampire Story About Anti-Ageing

UPDATE 1:30PM: I just noticed that the 3 April edition of The New Yorker has a story on this topic titled, "Silicon Valley's Quest to Live Forever," written by Tad Friend. If you have access to the magazine online, you can read it here.

* * *

It's pretty hard to go wrong investing in anti-aging products. According to a report released in 2016 by Zion Market Research of Sarasota, Florida:

”...global demand for anti-aging market was valued at USD 140.3 billion in 2015, is expected to reach USD 216.52 billion in 2021 and is anticipated to grow at a CAGR [compound annual growth rate] of 7.5% between 2016 and 2021.”

In case, like me, you wonder what the “anti-aging market” products actually are, Zion Market Research supplies a handy list of some of the most common ones:

Botox
Anti-Wrinkle Products
Anti-Stretch Mark Products
Anti-Pigmentation Therapy
Anti-Adult Acne Therapy
Breast Augmentation
Liposuction
Chemical Peel
Hair Restoration Treatment
Microdermabrasion
Laser Aesthetics
Anti-Cellulite Treatment
Anti-Aging Radio Frequency Devices

And that doesn't begin to cover the products and services that fall into categories that sound like science fiction.

Cryogenics, for example – freezing your body or even just your head to be defrosted later when, presumably, new techniques will give you additonal life although I always wonder what people who chose only to freeze their heads would do for a body to go with it.

Aubrey de Grey, a well-known British computer scientist and age researcher believes that in the not-too-distant future, medical advances will stop aging in its tracks.

Several technology billionaires are spending a lot of their money on research intending to end death entirely. Google has backed a project called Calico with the ambition of “curing death.”

As the Washington Post reported two years ago, Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of Paypal

”...and the tech titans who founded Google, Facebook, eBay, Napster and Netscape are using their billions to rewrite the nation’s science agenda and transform biomedical research.

“The entrepreneurs are driven by a certitude that rebuilding, regenerating and reprogramming patients’ organs, limbs, cells and DNA will enable people to live longer and better.

The Washington Post also reported that Oracle founder Larry Ellison

”...has proclaimed his wish to live forever and donated more than $430 million to anti-aging research. 'Death has never made any sense to me,' he told his biographer, Mike Wilson. 'How can a person be there and then just vanish, just not be there?'”

Ellison says outright what other tech billionaires don't quite say aloud, that they are really looking for immortality and some of them are convinced their money will actually purchase it for them.

I'm not going anywhere near the moral, ethical and philosophical questions that raises.

Instead, after all that background, I want to tell you about the creepiest anti-aging project in existence, something I can only think of as the Vampire Project. As so much medical research does, it started with mice.

Mice

Two years ago, Nature reported how some scientists were rejuvenating old mice with the blood of young mice in a procedure called parabiosis:

”By joining the circulatory system of an old mouse to that of a young mouse, scientists have produced some remarkable results. In the heart, brain, muscles and almost every other tissue examined, the blood of young mice seems to bring new life to ageing organs, making old mice stronger, smarter and healthier. It even makes their fur shinier.”

Or so it seemed and it is not a stretch to imagine, if this research is successful, young people selling their blood to rich old folks because it certainly would not go cheap.

Farfetched? By last fall, this was reported in Time magazine:

”In the new study, the scientists created a way to exchange the blood of young and old mice so that the mixture was 50-50. They found that old mice had some improvements in muscle repair and liver fibrosis, but young mice experienced worsened cell formation in the brain and impaired coordination, and the declines happened rapidly.

“'The big result is that a single exchange hurts the young partner more than it helps the old partner,' says study co-author Michael Conboy of UC Berkeley. 'That means the negative stuff in old blood is more potent and overriding than the good stuff in young blood, at least in the short term.'”

Mouse rejuvenation

That sounds like it would put a crimp in the young/old blood transfusion theory of immortality but we would be wrong. At a private clinic called Ambrosia in Monterey, California, right now people can pay $8,000 to have blood plasma from teenagers and young adults pumped into their veins.

Ambrosia owner, Jesse Karmazin says that

"...within a month, most participants 'see improvement' from the one-time infusion of a two-liter bagful of plasma, which is blood with the blood cells removed,” MIT Technology Review reported in January.

Of course, there is a big difference between studies with plasma and studies with blood and MIT has strong reservations.

”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...

“Over the last decade or so, such studies have offered provocative clues that certain hallmarks of aging can be reversed or accelerated when old mice get blood from young ones. Yet these studies have come to conflicting conclusions.

“An influential 2013 paper in Cell showed that a particular component in young blood, GDF11, increased muscle strength, for example, but other researchers could not replicate the finding.”

There is a lot more science explanation in these articles than I've subjected you to but if you are interested, follow the links above. And there is more here and here and here

Mainly, I am interessted in the elitest conceit of a bunch of billionaires who fund these vampire projects for their own ends when their almost unlimited resources could be put to such great good uses in the world. Here's a video about one of these guys who ran for president last year.

Comments

Between 2009 and 2010, (Due to various surgeries etc.), I received approximately 20 blood transfusions. And, while I can't say that they all came from "Young Blood", I can report that after those transfusions my wrinkles disappeared and my hair stopped falling out. In addition there was some lessening of joint pain.
I now have 10 pints of fresh young blood in my fridge (Don't ask where I got them), for use when I need it. I do not have any elderly mice however.

Bruce...
I have no idea if I am, perhaps, being rude but that is creepier than I can even begin to think about. The origin mystery makes it even creepier.

Now we know how Oracle got it's name

The mind boggles.

I have a neighbor who will be 100 in July and her favorite saying is, "You can't cure old age." And I will put it a different way; you can't fool mother nature.

The Earth is not feeding all the starving people already here. What would we do with billions who refuse to die and overpopulate this fragile planet? That is not only creepy, but scary as dog would eat dog for sustenance.

From a medieval song, these words come to mind................"More geese than swans now live, more fools than wise."

I couldn't finish reading this. It gave me the creeps.

What IS it with these tech dudes and their obsession with "eternal life"?

"Dying from aging is simply not natural," according to Zoltan Istvan in the video. Oh yeah? There are more than 8 million species on earth and all die from aging (if they survive predation). What makes him think humans are any different?

I almost feel pity for someone so desperate to stay young at all costs, except for the billions wasted, as you say. How sad to not have enjoyed your life and realize you and all of us are part of a natural process that is ever changing and in many ways recyclable if we would adhere to a more natural burial. Not to mention the gullibility of many people to all the anti aging products and to what end?

And the cost to the health of the planet with way to many more people than there already is. At first it would be for the super rich and I can't see how even they could be immune to some horrific pandemic. I don't think Mother Nature would allow this to go on for too long.

Im so grateful I don't mind aging and have no urge to fight it.

I think that the 'tech dudes' (to quote Paula) just want one thing: to come up with a treatment that will make them famous (and rich). And since they think that everyone wants to live forever (NOT!), that's what they choose to work on!

Starting in the early 1950s, I have read a lot of Science Fiction, and this plotline is not new.
Oh, wait, This is not fiction, this is real life.
The mind boggles.
Where are Asimov, Heinlein, L. Sprague deCamp when we need them.
As always, thanks for your post, Ronni.

When did super rich become synonymous with super stupid?

Am thrilled to know I won't have to share the planet with these idiots. And, truth be told, no one will because the planet, in all its wisdom, will self-destruct.

I'd almost like to be here for the moment when they figure out they screwed up - monumentally, screwed up. But not really, have seen enough of the "high level stupidity" in this past election. Humanity no longer deserves this planet...

Geez! Just let me get out my checkbook so I can live forever and get crankier and crankier and slurp up the lessening resources, while my children get old and die. Oh, wait. They'll live forever too. & we'll colonize Pluto--all other planets being taken.

Just think if you had parents you didn't like (many of us do or did) and then they got transfused or whatever and get to live on and on. And you'd never get to have your freedom! There comes a time to die -- it brings relief and release.

Oh. My. God. I imagine it's the same creeps that are buying poor people's organs for themselves. Really creepy.

still shaking head and I can't watch the last video. Excuse me if I wonder if God is shaking his head.

An aside: I know it's not exactly the same as "young blood", but I would bet that a large percentage of those who sell plasma are young. My daughter-in-law used to do so when she was going to school, my son would have done it if he were not diabetic and therefore couldn't.

What Darlene said.

Thank you PiedType, for asking why some humans think we are different from every other living thing on earth. We all shuffle off our mortal coils at some point, and who would want to carry them around forever? One way or another out anthropocentric attitude will do us in regardless of scientific advances.

For a ghoulish story of someone who used human blood to keep her young, check out Elizabeth Bathory de Ecsed, a Hungarian countess, who in the early 1600's was found to have lured hundreds of young women to her palace, for the purpose of torturing and killing them and using their blood to keep her young. She is listed in the Guinness book of records as the most prolific female murderer. Don't read about her right before bedtime, though.

The young techie dudes are under the erroneous impression that their money can buy anything, including eternal life. They're also convinced that technology is the answer to everything (hmmm, have they seen "The Fly" or ever considered that Pluto might NOT be hospitable to human life?). Both concepts are VERY creepy when you take a longer view and consider the future of the planet and the species.

A famine of historical proportions is already developing in parts of Africa. Even in the richest developed country on Earth, we have homeless encampments and kids who don't eat on weekends without backpacks from their schools (which The Orange Apparition would de-fund, of course).

It's no secret that I'm no fan of old age (for myself), but it is what it is--and likely always will be, give or take a few years.

All I can think to say is "Lord, what fools these mortals be."

I don't want to live forever - I just want 30 more years.

“They lose the day in expectation of the night, and the night in fear of the dawn.”
― Seneca, On the Shortness of Life

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