teen blood transfusion Silicon Valley Ambrosia
Blood taken from teens could hold key to longer life, claims Silicon Valley startup Ambrosia.Reuters

Silicon Valley is always on the lookout for fresh young blood to invigorate the industry and one startup has turned this metaphor into a literal business by actually selling the blood of teens to rejuvenate the old.

For $8,000 (£6,200) a pop, biotech company Ambrosia will offer a transfusion of plasma taken from 16-25 year olds to anyone over 35, with the belief that the young blood could reduce risks of heart disease, Alzheimer's and some forms of cancer.

While Ambrosia's founder Dr Jesse Karmazin is quick to avoid wild claims of everlasting life, or reversing the signs of ageing, he stated recently that the idea is the hope transfusions from younger individuals would prevent diseases often attributed with getting old.

How the procedure works is by taking plasma (the cell-less liquid portion of blood) and transferring it into the recipient's veins. As described in an article by Quartz the idea is that as people age, their bodies become less effective at producing healthy proteins from their cells, which often become misshapen and could cause a build-up, much like the amyloid plaques involved in Alzheimer's. The younger and fresher the plasma, the better the proteins for cells to perform their function.

Currently, Ambrosia is conducting trials with around 80 people with an average age of 60. It is claimed after just one month of transfusions participants reported feeling more energised and lab tests showed a reduction in cancer-causing antigens.

The procedure, however, has not been peer reviewed and the scientific community is treating the results and the whole idea with heavy scepticism. Many believe it is far too early to tell whether the blood transfusions actually work or whether they are simply a placebo.

"It is the scientific equivalent of fake news," Tony Wyss-Coray, a Stanford immunologist who studies the rejuvenating properties of young plasma in mice was quoted by Quartz.

Even Karmazin admits the findings are too early to be proof the plasma procedure works and claims further study is very expensive.

Yet, this hasn't stopped around 100 people signing up for the teenage transfusions with most of them around retirement age – and not just San Francisco's tech natives. However, this life-preserving procedure has even been featured in an episode of HBO's Silicon Valley, with one character who uses a 'blood boy' during meetings. That character is loosely based on PayPal co-founder and investor Peter Thiel, who himself has previously spoken of his belief in the powers teenage blood could hold.

Ambrosia has said it will continue to trial the controversial transfusions in the hope of providing more definitive results and one day making it cheaper.