Turn back the clock on aging brains

Scientists zooming in on specific proteins that help old minds stay young
Turn back the clock on aging brains
Olden woman and her daughter

The idea of becoming senile is scary. We see it happening to family and friends, and even when we encounter strangers with the condition, it’s no comforting thought. 

It could simply happen to us. Are you forgetting names? Struggling with words? Read on.

Young blood


Stanford neuroscientist Tony Wyss-Coray and his colleagues have discovered substances in the blood that can accelerate or slow down the brain-aging clock. Proteins on blood-vessel surfaces that molecules use to act on the brain were discovered and tests have shown that older mice look and act younger after receiving young mouse cerebrospinal fluid.

Aging issues related to our brains start to appear above the age of 50 or 60. It starts off with forgetfulness, inability to remember people’s names, and location of familiar places.

One in three centenarians seems to be resilient to cognitive decline opening the door to how brains age and cognitive abilities decline.

Tests confirmed that levels of large numbers of proteins changed significantly between people’s 20th and 90th years of life. Scientists questioned whether these changes caused brain aging, or were the result of it.

To find the answers, they surgically conjoined the circulatory systems of a young and old mouse and found that old mice exposed to younger blood showed several signs of being rejuvenated, generating new types of neurons, increased neuronal activity, and experiencing a reduction in brain inflammation.

Multiple intravenous infusions of young plasma made older mice smarter based on performance following cognitive tests. On the other hand, younger mice exposed to aged blood experienced accelerated aging of the brain and a loss of cognitive function.

In clinical trials, infusions of young plasma in real people showed significant benefits in Alzheimer’s patients.  

While it is still early, human testing can only hope to duplicate the results done on mice, where also specific proteins were found to be useful for delaying muscle loss, while others help improve brain function.

Regardless of these experiments, stress appears to be the greatest source of damage that can indirectly accelerate the aging process.  

Alzheimer protein

Research teams are close to finding new methods by which to clear harmful proteins in the brain that induce cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s. 

Experts believe Alzheimer’s is triggered by amyloid beta proteins building up in the brain and clumping together. Injecting robust levels of a separate protein aquaporin 4 could help to remove them.

Meanwhile, sending electrical currents into two parts of the brain known for storing and recalling information helped boost the immediate recall of words in people over 65, according to a study reported by CNN.

This preliminary finding will encourage more exploration of the use of bioelectronic approaches for disorders like Alzheimer’s. 

Today, applying transcranial AC current stimulation, or tACS,  mimics wavelike electrical currents to specific areas of the brain through electrodes on the scalp. These can change brainwave activity to stimulate brain growth and change the brain’s neural network.

“I believe this is the future of neurologic intervention, to help strengthen networks in our brains that may be failing,” said Dr. Gayatri Devi, a clinical professor of neurology and psychiatry at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell University in New York. 

The stories on our website are intended for informational purposes only. Those with finance, investment, tax or legal content are not to be taken as financial advice or recommendation. Refer to our full disclaimer policy here.