Ambrosia: A start-up that Wants to Inject You with the Blood of Young People

The controversial start-up has been touted "dangerous" by medical professionals but has found an FDA loophole

18.06.2019 | by Kezia Parkins
Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash
Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash

Stamford Medical School graduate Jesse Karmazin, the founder of Ambrosia, believes that blood is the next big government-approved drug.

We’ve seen the vampire facial and a surge in the number of people opting for botox and fillers to preserve the looks of their youth but Ambrosia, the start-up that injects the blood of the young into the old for $8000 is causing much controversy in the United States. Despite this, the company has recently started operating.

Three years ago, Karmazin launched the start-up after being inspired by a study by Irina and Michael Conboy, two University of California at Berkeley researchers who published research on young-blood transfusions in mice. He believes that doing the same on humans would help combat ageing by rejuvenating the body’s organs.

When Karmazin announced his plans to launch a clinic in NYC last year (which didn’t happen), the Conboys called out the procedure as “dangerous” and said the idea behind it is based on “incorrect interpretations” of their work. They also claim that the act of injecting young blood into older people will not have benefits for people wanting to look and feel younger.

The US’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stifled Karmazin’s plans, with the regulator echoing the concerns of researchers.

However, Ambrosia — named after the Greek God’s mythological tipple of choice which is said to ensure immortality — has found a way around the regulator’s warnings and is set to be operating in five states across the US.

The medical community is well aware of the dangers of blood transfusions and this is where the Conboys’ concern stems from.

“It is well known in the medical community – and this is also the reason we don’t do transfusions frequently – that in 50% of patients there are very bad side effects. You are being infused with somebody else’s blood and it doesn’t match,” they told Business Insider. “That unleashes a strong immune reaction.”

Despite the concerns of the medical community and the FDA, Karmazin – who himself is not a licensed medical practitioner – has the legal right to go ahead anyway because blood transfusions are a life-saving approved treatment (for the incredibly sick) meaning his approach has been able to continue as an off-label treatment.

The company’s newly revamped website states: “Ambrosia Health, LLC is interested in the science of parabiosis, which has been shown in mice to reverse ageing. In humans, plasma is an approved drug, but its use has not been evaluated by the FDA for any ageing-related condition.”

In 2017, Ambrosia enrolled people in the first US clinical trial designed to discover what happens when the veins of adults are filled with blood from the young. Still, the clinical trail participants had to pay $8,000 to take part.

As of September last year, the company has infused around 150 people from 35 to 92 with 1.5 litres of plasma from donors between the ages of 16 and 25.

While the results of that study have not yet been made public, Karmazin told Business Insider that they were “really positive.”

Ambrosia’s website also states that “plasma is an off-label treatment, so we cannot make any claims about its effectiveness. There may be risks to this treatment and your doctor will advise you on these risks.”

Ambrosia is currently offering 1-litre treatments for $8000 and 2 litres for $12000 and is treating patients out of clinics in San Francisco and Tampa.

The company has received significant interest and has a waiting list. Despite the slightly sinister methods behind the treatment, there is no reason why it wouldn’t be popular if you look at our current obsession with fighting ageing and looking and feeling younger for longer.

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