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Thread: Vampire?

  1. #1 Vampire? 
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    OK this is an odd one I admit, and I have no intention of attempting this experiment in reality. But what would happen if an older person were to attempt to replace their blood supply on a regular basis with that from a much younger person? I don't mean literally like a vampire by drinking their blood, but maybe intravenously, on either a weekly or monthly basis, or on whatever basis necessary. Would this have any impact on the ageing process?

    You couldn't do it with people, but it would be an interesting experiment to try out with rats.

    My interest has been raised by the idea of the potential practicality of biopacks in video games, which can be used when a player is injured to restore health. I am simply interested in how these might work in reality. Obviously being shot would still be fatal in most circumstances, but it's possible to envisage a day when we could engineer biopacks that could undertake many of the functions of our ageing bodies. My hunch is that if these could work they would be biologically based. (Also we are not talking about people being shot here, just delaying ageing and the onset of ageing related diseases.)

    I know people will say I am mad, but think baby (or adolescent) in a backpack lol. But more specifically think of a time when we can engineer (unconscious) life in a wearable external pack that can carry out all of the most important functions of the human body.

    Anyway, crazy thought I know. But worth thinking about.


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  3. #2  
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    I'd say that your its more likely new organs would be grown and surgically transplanted, rather than a brainless being in a backpack doing the work.

    It wouldn't get past an ethics panel, for one thing.

    Besides, it wasn't too long ago that scientists grew a bladder in a lab. Give it another decade or two, I don't doubt that lab grown organs will become reality.


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  4. #3  
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    Yeah I just thought that maybe having major surgery all the time might be a bit too traumatic and people might not always survive this. I was just wondering out loud if there might be another way? I think I was rather thinking about the ability to replace damaged tissue at the cellular level, rather than with whole organs at a time. (Basically if we could attempt to grow/regenerate new/er organs in situ.)

    The mainstay of my question though was really what might happen if an older person simply regularly changed their blood supply on a regular basis with that of a much younger person? (Or in the case of rats with much younger /adolescent rats?)

    Would this have any effect on the overall life cycle of the recipient, providing that this process could be completed unobtrusively?

    It is mad and a bit science fiction (and potentially slightly horror too) but ethics aside, it might still be interesting to consider what might happen.
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  5. #4  
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    I don't see why replacing blood would have any desirable effects, other than perhaps temporarily increasing endurance (if RBC goes up).
    Consequences and complications seem much more likely.
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  6. #5  
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    OK maybe the blood only model would be a bit too crude then, although it would still be interesting to perhaps look at an animal model to see exactly what these "complications and consequences" might be, or if they would exist at all. There is perhaps something to be said about the community of cells and anti-bodies that makes you you, as these may not be in common circulation at any given time. This is possibly one area where complications may arise.

    However the possibility (science fiction although it may currently be) of being able to repair most of the body's tissue and organs at a cellular level, as opposed to the obvious trauma of doing this at an organ transplant level remains intriguing. To this end (although again it remains a speculative concept in the extreme), I am simply curious as to what methodology one could employ to achieve this goal. My hunch remains that to repair biological systems would require more biology, or perhaps just an extension of existing biology.

    Having some kind of 'lifepack' that could extend the duration and efficiency of our biological bodies by repairing tissue at the cellular level, might at least be an interesting premise on which to begin a consideration of this topic. If blood on it's own wouldn't work, then perhaps the question simply becomes on of what *might* work? What are the conditions under which such a regenerative process might take place?

    For example, how about if your biopack contained cloned tissue of you that was taken from you at a very young age. In theory, couldn't this somehow be utilised to repair damage to your existing *older* tissue?
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  7. #6  
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    Hi raid517,

    If it were possible to replace an older person's blood with blood derived from their younger self, this may boost the immune system of the older person/ temporarily reverse the decline in function of the immune system that is observed upon ageing.

    Tridimity ~
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  8. #7  
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    So perhaps preserved bone marrow then? What you ideally want is something that replaces all of the damaged anti-bodies and that perhaps might contain many of the constituent elements that are responsible for providing the material for cell regeneration. (As clearly much of this can be found in the interstitial fluid.) It might be an interesting experiment just to see what, if any impact the blood has on the ageing process.

    It is possible to rule out any positive, or negative impact at all, but surely this can't be fully known until it's attempted?

    I am aware of the slightly bizarre (and horror movie-esque), and the potentially very large ethical issues involved, but ethics aside it might still be an interesting question to consider.
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  9. #8  
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    You might consider developing a hypothesis re. a specific character or capacity you're trying to change - presumably improve. The vague idea that something good will come of replacing blood or bone marrow hardly justifies the concept and wouldn't serve well as experimental protocol.
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  10. #9  
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    So what you would tend to develop a single hypothesis, like transplanting bone marrow (or blood) harvested at a young age back into someone at a significantly older age may have an impact on the immune system?

    This doesn't say what this impact would be, whether it would be good or bad, just that it might have an impact.

    Again you could conceivably use an animal model to test this. We could talk about ageing, but that's not very specific as you say, as ageing involves a range of disorders, so it is perhaps better to just focus on one aspect of this only. Any other effects could probably be noted at a later date.

    I'm just learning biology, so I wonder what would be a good hypothesis, and how one would formulate this?
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  11. #10  
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    Indeed, this approach "serum therapy" has been used in treatment of disease but don't think immunity benefit was more than transitory.

    http://cmr.asm.org/cgi/content/full/11/3/514

    Think about your assumptions - why a younger person? If existing antibodies were the active factor, exposure more so than youth would be a positive selective criterion.
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  12. #11  
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    I agree exposure works to boost immunity. However there comes a point where immunity (from a range of disorders) becomes less efficient.

    I am simply (at a very early point) attempting to think of ways that this decline in efficiency can be arrested. There must be some peak point in our younger selves at which that peak point is reached where our systems are working at maximum efficiency. Beyond this peak, one would expect a general (although slow) trend towards decline. In our younger selves our ability to fight infection is significantly enhanced, even in those cases where we are exposed to diseases to which we have had no previous exposure, than probably would be the case in our older selves.

    Of course this is several orders of magnitude away from what might be an ultimate goal, which is to investigate ways to boost the immune system and to repair and replace tissue at the cellular level and in so doing see if this might delay the onset of the various symptoms associated with the ageing process. But certainly harvested and/or cloned tissue from one's younger self might be a good starting premise, as this will clearly be in better shape than anything utilised from one's older self. (Although given current limitations in cloning technology we might not be quite there yet.)
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  13. #12  
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    You'll need to bring "decline in efficiency" to some objective measure and i'd not count on anything but an acute effect.
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  14. #13  
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    Define 'objective measure'. This is just a thought experiment. As I said I'm new to biology (and new to science), so I'm just trying to work out how things are done. You mean I would need to break it down to a single measurable quantity of some kind? The above 'decline in efficiency', is I suppose in reality a decline in many combined efficiencies. So in a real experiment you would tend to focus your attention on perhaps only one of these? (Such as a specific immune response, or length of telomeres etc?) It makes sense to say you would set out with a single specific goal in mind, something that of itself could be used as your measuring stick.

    Also this 'acute effect', I assume this is medical jargon? In the little I have learned so far about science, it doesn't do to make presumptions about the outcome of an experiment. (Particularly if an effect will be beneficial or not.) In such cases the best hypothesis one can form is that something will happen. One then simply sets out to prove or disprove this hypothesis and to make any observations of the observed effects (if any) as they occur. A bias for a positive, or a negative outcome probably should not exist. But perhaps I'm misinterpreting 'acute effect'?
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  15. #14  
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    Science doesn't entertain "thought experiments" and I hope you can do better than "something will happen".
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  16. #15  
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    Oh get lost then. You are just being a pain in the ass. I thought you were trying to be helpful. Try telling Einstein he shouldn't have done thought experiments.

    I have been taught thus far to not set out with a set of assumptions, rather to formulate a hypothesis, set up an experiment to test this hypothesis to see whether any of the evidence supports or disproves it. There should be no bias in the experiment (or the experimenter) either way. Roughly translated to all instances this equates the hypothesis that something will happen (or conversely something won't happen).

    In reality in keeping with your seemly more helpful post (although I'm not convinced you weren't just still trying to be a dick now), you would almost invariably be a great deal more specific about what the thing that might happen (or that might not happen) would be. But in essence something will happen (or will not happen) lies at the heart of almost all hypothesis testing.

    I thought we had move beyond that part of the discussion at this stage.
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  17. #16  
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    I'm a scientist and was asking you to think in that manner. But no worries - I understand that reality complicates things. Suggest you stick with your "thought experiments" of vague something will happen hypothesis and gee whiz observations. Then you can make up whatever result seem interesting.
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  18. #17  
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    Being a scientist clearly doesn't prevent you from being a dick. I think you would hate physics, as it's entire history is peppered very heavily with thought experiments, many of which have later turned out to be spectacularly successful.

    I don't have the facilities to do experiments yet and as I am just learning about science (as a mature student) I am also currently trying to work out the methods involved in hypothesis formation (and testing.) I think it's useful to get these concepts clear in one's mind first (despite your apparent objections to this) before attempting any significant experiments for real. It's nonsense that people don't think about experiments and don't think about the kind of skills and techniques that might be involved before attempting them. These are skills that are learned. No one is born with them. Not even you.

    I doubt I will learn anything useful in this regard on an internet forum however. More likely is that it will simply descend into the usual snide comments and petty bickering that a lot of these threads often do.

    Bully for you that you are a scientist. Meanwhile I intend to continue my efforts to learn and to try to become one.
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