Gavin Belson, billionaire of technology, is accompanied by a "boy of blood", a young man he keeps on hand to infuse young blood to keep him alert. This vampiric medical idea – that infusion of young blood can help slow aging – is not an invention of creative TV creators, but rather inspired by trends in the world of technology – including a Monterey's real-life startup, called Ambrosia, which offers human plasma transfusions taken only from young adults. Ambrosia says these infusions will contribute to the longevity of those who can afford expensive service.
Unfortunately for its customers, the possibilities for technorati to suck the blood of young people may well have dried up. On Feb. 19, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a statement warning consumers against plasma injection of young donors to treat aging, Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, etc. .
"We have significant public health issues related to the promotion and use of plasma for these purposes," said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and Center for Biologics Evaluation director. and FDA Research, Peter Marks, MD, Ph.D., said. "There is no proven clinical benefit from infusing plasma from young donors to cure, ameliorate, treat or prevent these conditions, and there are risks associated with the use of any plasma product."
The statement adds that the federal agency is worried that consumers "are the target of unscrupulous actors touting plasma treatments by young donors as remedies and cures".
"In general, we will consider taking regulatory and enforcement action against companies who abuse patients' trust and put their health at risk due to uncontrolled manufacturing conditions or by promoting" treatments "that do not have not demonstrated their effectiveness or safety. use, "the statement continues.
Ambrosia announced that it was ending all treatments soon after the announcement. Yet, it has been almost three years since the company started its clinical trials, screening sites, and acceptance of payments for PayPal procedures. SFGate indicated that Ambrosia's customers could already buy 1 liter of young blood for $ 8,000, or 2 liters for $ 12,000.
The cessation of Ambrosia's operations comes about a year after a separate mini-scandal in which company president Jesse Karmazin made pseudoscientific statements about the company-funded clinical trial. "[Young blood infusions] could help improve things such as appearance or diabetes or heart function or memory. All aspects of aging have a common cause, "he told the British newspaper The Times in 2017." I'm not really inclined to say that it will bring immortality, but I think that it is safe. " 39, in essentially approximates. "
Last year, Ambrosia had infused nearly 150 people with blood from other people, according to SFGate. The infamous undemocratic investor and libertarian Peter Thiel was interested in the idea of siphoning young people's blood to slow down aging.
The FDA's consumer warning comes at a pivotal moment for Silicon Valley, as various government agencies more actively regulate the worlds of technology and biotechnology. Congressional Democrats are currently studying a bill to put in place privacy protections online. The Federal Trade Commission has announced the creation of a task force to examine mergers and acquisitions of large technology companies. Similarly, the dramatic fall of the biotechnology company Theranos would set a precedent for a reputable industry to raise money for its ambitious ideas, even if they have not yet proven themselves.
"The story of Theranos is an important lesson for Silicon Valley," said Jina Choi, director of the SEC's regional office in San Francisco, in a statement, at the time of the revelation of the 39-year-old indictment. former CEO. "Innovators looking to revolutionize and disrupt an industry need to tell investors the truth about what their technology can do today, not just what they hope they can do someday."
But does this apply to comparable biotechnology companies like Ambrosia? Since the Food and Drug Administration technically approves blood transfusions, the start-up approach was considered a "substandard treatment". The line is blurry about health and wellness in Silicon Valley; For example, supplements not approved by the FDA can be sold.
"Because we let people sell a wide range of health-related products without any evidence of effectiveness (or safety). . . . This is partly because they are termed dietary supplements, the FDA has only very little power, "said Henry Greely, director of the Center for Law and Biosciences at the University of Toronto. Stanford University, in an email. "What brought Ambrosia is that the blood products [fall] in the "real" jurisdiction of the FDA (as organic products and not as barely regulated food supplements) and must therefore be demonstrated to be safe and effective. "
The FDA has sent Salon's request for comment to its official statement. The Federal Trade Commission told Salon that it did not comment on the business practices of a particular company unless the agency did investigate and file a complaint.
Irina Conboy of UC Berkeley's bioengineering department, who published a study on heterochronic parabiosis, told Salon in an email that the FDA had made the right choice.
"In my opinion, the FDA acted as it should, because the paid service provided by Ambrosia had never had a sound scientific rationale. and injecting another person – genetically incomparable body fluids – can have deleterious side effects, "she said.