A Washington D.C. based health and wellness center called Ambrosia Plasma features “plasma infusions” collected from children for the stunning price of $8,000.
In 2016, a business called Ambrosia Plasma cropped up in the Washington D.C. metro involving…harvesting the blood of children and giving it to rich people who can afford to buy “young blood” transfusions. It sounds like the script for a horror film. Perhaps one recalls the story of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, who worked at Ambrosia Chocolate Factory and also worked for a blood bank. According to a 1991 New York Times article:
Until last week, when he was let go, Mr. Dahmer worked as a laborer at the Ambrosia Chocolate Company and once worked at a downtown blood bank.”
Ambrosia Plasma proudly declares its use of blood products from children as young as 16 years old as a part of a “clinical trial.” On its website, the company provides studies about the effects of “young blood.” One study focuses on the reversal of cognitive decline in mice given “young blood.” The abstract for the study states:
As human lifespan increases, a greater fraction of the population is suffering from age-related cognitive impairments, making it important to elucidate a means to combat the effects of aging. Here we report that exposure of an aged animal to young blood can counteract and reverse pre-existing effects of brain aging at the molecular, structural, functional and cognitive level. Genome-wide microarray analysis of heterochronic parabionts—in which circulatory systems of young and aged animals are connected—identified synaptic plasticity–related transcriptional changes in the hippocampus of aged mice.”
Ambrosia claims that clinical trials are underway involving major progressive diseases that are difficult to treat. The company is testing “young blood” on several neurodegenerative diseases including Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. These disorders cannot be cured. Their progression can only be slowed by medication or surgical interventions like deep brain stimulation, which is used to control Parkinsonian symptomatology.
Ambrosia Plasma suggests reversal of age-related diseases is a possibility with “young blood.” A similar claim has been made since the 1990s with stem cells transplants, although multiple complications have been documented with this procedure. In one case, transfusions of hematopoietic stem cells were shown to result in an increase in invasive aspergillosis, a fungal infection that is resistant to many medications.
From its website, Ambrosia Plasma claims:
Our plasma is obtained from US blood banks. Donors are healthy, aged 16-25, and every unit of plasma is screened as is required by the FDA.”
Ambrosia Plasma has operated in California for several years. But in 2016, owner Dr. Jesse Karmazin appears to have opened an office in the Washington DC metro area. It is unclear why the business is now providing services in the DC metro. There is also no address on file for the DC location; only the California address is provided on the company’s website.
“Young blood” has been met with support and criticism. Not unsurprisingly, The New York Times enthusiastically endorsed the use of children’s blood to treat aging adults:
Two teams of scientists published studies on Sunday showing that blood from young mice reverses aging in old mice, rejuvenating their muscles and brains. As ghoulish as the research may sound, experts said that it could lead to treatments for disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease.”
However, an MIT publication called Technology Review suggests that Ambrosia Plasma is a multimillion-dollar scam that lacks sound research. Scientists have criticized Karmazin’s trials as poorly designed and unable to provide evidence to support “young blood” anti-aging claims:
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.”
At this time, there is little research to support that the blood of children will help reverse aging or progressive diseases. There are also ethical questions about harvesting from minors that should cause people to question the motivation of Ambrosia Plasma.