Name: Young Plasma
Therapy Type: Other
Target Type: Inflammation (timeline), Other (timeline), Unknown
Condition(s): Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, Alzheimer's Disease
U.S. FDA Status: Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (Inactive), Alzheimer's Disease (Inactive)
Company: Alkahest, Inc., Grifols Biologicals Inc.
The rationale behind this treatment approach is that systemic factors present in young blood cross into the brain, where they counteract aging processes and neurodegeneration by modulating neuroinflammation, neurogenesis, and cognitive function. In essence, this approach attempts to rejuvenate the aging brain with infusions of plasma from young adults. Initial clinical trials grew, in part, out of parabiosis studies, in which old mice connected via their circulatory systems to young mice showed improvements on a wide range of outcome measures related to aging and neurodegeneration (May 2014 conference news; Mar 2013 conference news; Nov 2009 conference news).
On February 2019, responding to reports of commercial delivery of young plasma as a purported treatment for various conditions including memory loss, the FDA issued a statement warning the public of the potential risks of this practice. GRF6019 is a plasma fraction from which clotting factors and immunoglobulins have been removed to reduce those risks.
From September 2014 to February 2017, a double-blinded Phase 1 study at Stanford University enrolled 18 people with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease into a 12-week trial. It compared a four-week treatment regimen of once-weekly injections of one unit of plasma from men aged 30 or under to placebo. Treatment and placebo groups switched off after a four-week washout. Safety was the primary outcome; other outcomes included cognitive, functional, and neuropsychiatric AD scales, as well as functional connectivity in the default mode network as per resting state functional MRI. At the 2017 CTAD meeting, the treatment was reported to have been safe and to have yielded a signal on functional/daily activities tests. However, two participants dropped out and the study switched to open-label midway through (Dec 2017 conference news, and Sha et al., 2019). For details, see clinicaltrials.gov.
In May 2015, a Phase 1 study at the University of California, San Francisco, enrolled six people with progressive supranuclear palsy into an open-label study of transfusion of plasma from blood donors 30 or younger. This study infuses four units of fresh frozen plasma once a month for six months. Beyond the primary outcome of safety, this trial lists 13 additional outcome measures ranging from change in motor, cognitive, functional, and behavioral measures to CSF, MRI, saccadic eye movement, and sleep measures. See clinicaltrials.gov. The trial was completed in December 2019, and results were published. The infusions were safe but did not change exploratory endpoints (VandeVrede et al., 2020).
From 2016-2019, a Phase 1 study of young plasma in 15 people with Parkinson’s disease was carried out at Stanford University. Infusions were safe and were reported to improve exploratory endpoints of verbal fluency (Parker et al., 2020).
In 2018, a second-generation approach to young plasma entered clinical trials, see GRF6019.
Last Updated: 14 Jan 2021
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- Chicago: The Vampire Principle—Young Blood Rejuvenates Aging Brain?
- Sha SJ, Deutsch GK, Tian L, Richardson K, Coburn M, Gaudioso JL, Marcal T, Solomon E, Boumis A, Bet A, Mennes M, van Oort E, Beckmann CF, Braithwaite SP, Jackson S, Nikolich K, Stephens D, Kerchner GA, Wyss-Coray T. Safety, Tolerability, and Feasibility of Young Plasma Infusion in the Plasma for Alzheimer Symptom Amelioration Study: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Neurol. 2019 Jan 1;76(1):35-40. PubMed.
- VandeVrede L, Dale ML, Fields S, Frank M, Hare E, Heuer HW, Keith K, Koestler M, Ljubenkov PA, McDermott D, Ohanesian N, Richards J, Rojas JC, Thijssen EH, Walsh C, Wang P, Wolf A, Quinn JF, Tsai R, Boxer AL. Open-Label Phase 1 Futility Studies of Salsalate and Young Plasma in Progressive Supranuclear Palsy. Mov Disord Clin Pract. 2020 May;7(4):440-447. Epub 2020 Apr 10 PubMed.
- Parker JE, Martinez A, Deutsch GK, Prabhakar V, Lising M, Kapphahn KI, Anidi CM, Neuville R, Coburn M, Shah N, Bronte-Stewart HM. Safety of Plasma Infusions in Parkinson's Disease. Mov Disord. 2020 Nov;35(11):1905-1913. Epub 2020 Jul 7 PubMed.
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