Ambrosia, a new startup company located in Monterey, California, is offering transfusions of blood plasma from teenagers and young adults at a cost of $8,000. According to the company's founder, Jesse Karmazin, a one-time infusion of two liters of plasma can have miraculous results. Ambrosia has given plasma infusions to 25 people since December of last year, and Karmazin shared an example of a patient suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome who now “feels healthy for the first time" and "looks younger."
Karmazin said that he was inspired by research on mice that suggested that blood from younger mice could reverse the effects of aging in older mice. Researchers in institutions from California to China are currently conducting experiments to investigate whether infusions of “young blood” can help treat Alzheimer's disease, neurologic damage caused by a stroke, or degenerative disorders. However, none of this research has concretely proven that these infusions have a positive benefit in humans, leading some to call Ambrosia's transfusions a scam.
The transfusions conducted by Ambrosia are in fact a research study, but one that is funded by the participants, not a medical institution. "There are a lot of patient-funded trials run by companies that use the trials as a way to sell products that wouldn't be marketable because they'd have to be regulated by the FDA," explained Jonathan Kimmelman, a bioethicist at McGill University in Montreal. The Ambrosia study will look at around 100 biomarkers in their participants' blood both before and after the infusions.
Several scientists have said that Ambrosia's trial is too poorly designed to provide any concrete evidence to prove its claim. According to University of California, Berkeley, professor Irina Conboy, “the problem is that there is no evidence to suggest that an infusion of plasma from young to old animals reverses aging.” The study also lacks a proper control group.
Stanford University neuroscientist Tony Wyss-Coray, who has conducted research showing that blood infusions from young mice improved the memory of older mice, is also critical of Ambrosia's participant-funded research model. "People want to believe that young blood restores youth, even though we don't have evidence that it works in humans and we don't understand the mechanism of how mice look younger," Wyss-Coray said. "I think people are just attracted to it because of vampire stories."