Above: Peter Thiel
We’ve had many ridiculous medical fads in the history of the United States and lord knows we have them today (I for one am shocked at how many upper middle-class white people already concerned with food and bodies have suddenly developed an intolerance for gluten. Talk about a targeted demographic!). So the upper class might as well have their own and suck on the blood of young people in order to stay alive a bit longer. It turns out that Peter Thiel is far from the only elite rubbing their claws together in anticipation of this.
The latest advancement in anti-aging therapies hardly sounds like modern medicine at all. Ambrosia, a startup based in Monterey, California, is launching a clinical trial to inject the blood of young people into just about anyone aged 35 and up—if they’re willing to pay $8,000.
Young-to-old blood transfusions hit the limelight in 2014 when Harvard Stem Cell Institute researcher Amy Wagers discovered that the blood of young mice improved muscle, heart, and brain function in older mice. Scientists sewed the skin of two mice together, allowing their circulatory systems to merge. The surgery, called parabiosis, was first performed in the 1860s but has seen a resurgence of interest following Wagers’s study.
PayPal cofounder and Facebook investor Peter Thiel recently told Inc. that he finds parabiosis “really interesting” and said that his curiosity leans more toward his personal health rather than a potential business venture. This is not the first time Thiel has shown an interest in combatting aging.
Ambrosia is planning on giving 600 patients four rounds of weekly blood infusions coming from 16- to 25-year-olds. Ambrosia founder Jesse Karmazin, who went to Stanford Medical School, said in an e-mail that he was inundated with interview requests and unable to speak today.
The pay-to-play nature of Ambrosia’s trial has drawn criticism from some researchers, and is reminiscent of recent news highlighting the surge in unproven stem-cell clinics that require their patients to pay for clinical trials that may never see data published. The Ambrosia clinical trial lists over 100 blood biomarkers it plans to measure before and one month after the transfusions, but David Glass, executive director of aging research at Novartis, says that because the trial has no placebo control group, it will be impossible to decipher any benefits from it.
I know I get accused of portraying the wealthy plutocrats of the New Gilded Age as monsters and some people don’t like. But then they actually start acting like real monsters.