A team of scientists from Stanford University’s neurology department have discovered that the blood taken from newborns’ umbilical cords proved successful in improving the memory of older mice, aged around 50, in human years.
The study was carried out by taking samples of blood from individuals belonging to 3 different age groups. The researchers found a particular protein in the infants’ plasma cells, TIMP2, which appeared to reverse the effects of aging on the brain. Comparatively, the mice injected with plasma from young adults showed only slight memory improvements but the ones injected with older adults’ blood showed no change.
The results were astounding; the mice injected with umbilical cord blood showed significant memory and learning improvement; they succeeded in making their way through a maze more quickly and were able to recall how to build nests, faring better in the tests than they did before being injected. This correlated with increased hippocampus activity observed by the scientists, the region of the brain in charge of memory and learning.
The findings of the study were published in the popular scientific journal, Nature, earlier this week.
However, lead author of the study, Dr. Joe Castellano, urges people not to get too enthusiastic just yet; there’s a chance that the results shown in mice might not be translated to their human counterparts. He also added that there’s still a long way to go to determine the long-term effects of TIMP2.
He also went on to acknowledge the “creepiness’ factor” of the study, after a barrage of online comments attacked the results as something out of a horror movie, but maintained that the reason for the study “was to analyze the molecules present within umbilical cord plasma in order to identify potential, previously unappreciated proteins that might be developed into further therapies down the road.”