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'Vampire healing' could help mend old bones

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Author Topic: 'Vampire healing' could help mend old bones  (Read 189 times)
Aspects of the Material World
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« on: May 25, 2015, 12:35:09 am »

'Vampire healing' could help mend old bones
Posted on Wednesday, 20 May, 2015 | Comment icon 11 comments

Could we one day see donated blood being used to help heal the elderly ? Image Credit: US Navy
The blood of the young possesses special healing properties that disappear as we get older.
Scientists had long believed that broken bones take longer to heal in the elderly due to the way the bone cells deteriorate with age, but now researchers have found that it is actually the age of a person's blood that dictates how long the healing process takes.

Experiments using mice have revealed that younger blood cells produce a unique molecule, most likely a protein, that is responsible for speeding up the healing of fractured bones.

"It turns out that it's not the bone cells, it's the blood cells," said study co-author Benjamin Alman.

"As you get older, the blood cells change the way they behave when you have an injury, and as a result the cells that heal bone aren't able to work as efficiently."

The discovery means that it may be possible to aid the healing of a broken bone by giving an elderly patient a transfusion of blood from a younger donor. It may even be possible to find a technique to reactivate these additional healing capabilities in blood cells no matter how old they are.

"If they could never behave like young cells again, and they were too worn out to produce bone the way they should, it would be really hard to change that," said Alman. "But these results show that this is a solvable problem. Now it's a matter of figuring out how best to make it work."
Source: Smithsonian Magazine
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