In light of the frenzy of activity and many failures surrounding anti-aging research over the last two decades, the obvious question that anyone should ask comes down to viability.
I’ll address the litany of failures in anti-aging research in a later post – it’s a big topic in need of its own commentary – but let's say the search for "magic bullets" has been futile.
As for our approach, the practical application of medically established treatment therapies to a new understanding of the aging process, here’s what we know and what we don’t know.
We know Therapeutic Plasma Exchange (TPE) is a safe and well-established therapy for a number of medical conditions with powerful immunomodulatory effects not requiring the use of drugs or artificial substances. (Technically speaking the FDA regulates blood products like drugs for safety reasons, but they are not synthetic, man-made drugs, they are real blood products from real humans). TPE removes pathogenic and proinflammatory factors accumulated in our blood via extracorporeal (outside of the body) processing. Further, plasmapheresis leads to normalization of key immune system indicators (e.g., CD4/CD8 ratio) that become abnormal, a condition that afflicts people with old blood, which exhibits immune function ratios similar to patients with autoimmune conditions. So, putting aside “anti-aging” or other beneficial possibilities per se, we know that the TPE removes inhibitory factors negatively effecting and contributing to the slow decline of the immune system, a naturally occurring phenomena of aging blood as it oxidizes over time. And, we know that patients with Alzheimer’s have stopped their decline or improved their condition as a result of TPE treatments. Generally, we know that prevention outweighs remediation; better to bolster the immune system early than wait for the onset of more complicated conditions. And we know that the procedure risk remains relatively low.
While we have strong empirical data to support what we know, we don't necessarily know how long the treatment therapy will last. And the answer may vary by individual based on environment, lifestyle, diet, and genetic history. If someone works 80 hours per week, never exercises, eats junk food, drinks heavily, smokes, takes drugs, and parties the rest of the time…those negative inputs may outweigh any benefits of any treatment therapy, of course. In the case of autoimmune disorders, frequency of treatment therapies varies by specific disease, as well as individual. While aging blood bears a similar profile to the blood of autoimmune patients, aging blood typically takes much longer to reach that state, an inexorable decline over time rather than a more acute condition. We don’t know how profound possible benefits may be, or if we’ll observe what has been observed in mice – growth in muscle cells, liver cells, and brain cells. Hence, the basis for our clinical trial, and, given the tremendous diversity of individual conditions, the reason we chose to conduct a trial at a greater scale, initially up to 1,000 patients.