On 26 December 2018, the News Punch junk news site (formerly the equally disreputable Your News Wire junk news site) published an article claiming that CBS had reported on “world leaders and elite businessmen” who supposedly “ingest the blood of young children in order to achieve ‘eternal youth’”:
CBS: Elites Are Lining up to Ingest the Blood of Children
World leaders and elite businessmen are ingesting the blood of young children in order to achieve ‘eternal youth,’ a CBS report warns.
What was once dismissed as a ‘conspiracy theory’ is now being publicly acknowledged by billionaires and the mainstream media.
That News Punch report was typically distorted and deliberately misleading, intended to foster a false picture of vampiric patrons feasting on the blood of children to maintain themselves in a state of youthful immortality.
The underlying information that formed basis of the News Punch article did not come from CBS News, but rather from a two-minute, speculative health segment produced by Philadelphia television station KYW. And that segment did not state, or even remotely suggest, that anyone was “ingesting” the blood of “young children” in order to “achieve eternal youth.”
That KYW segment was itself mostly a brief rehash of some recent studies which found that giving older mice infusions of blood plasma from younger mice seemingly improved the former’s performance in learning and memory tests. Other studies are ongoing to determine whether the process might have any applicability in human beings:
The segment also referenced the efforts of a company called Ambrosia, which as reported by Wired, performed a controversial human trial on a small group of subjects over age 35 whom they charged $8,000 each to receive a few liters of plasma donated by young adults:
In 2016, a company called Ambrosia launched the first human trial of young plasma transfusions, charging patients $8,000 a pop to participate. Anyone over 35 with the necessary cash was eligible to receive two liters of plasma donated by young adults, which Ambrosia purchases from blood banks. Given the fee and the lack of a placebo treatment to compare it to, scientists and bioethicists have questioned the rigor of the study. But those barbs haven’t stopped Ambrosia’s founder, Jesse Karmazin, from being bullish on the (unpublished) results of the trial, which he announced for the first time at the Recode technology conference last May.
“We measured 113 biomarkers 30 days after the transfusion and we saw a durable, but not permanent, effect,” says Karmazin, who has an MD from Stanford but no license to practice medicine. (He initially conducted the trial with a physician who runs a private intravenous therapy center in Monterey, California, but later moved to sites in San Francisco and Tampa after a falling out between them.) Karmazin says the study participants described feeling stronger, more awake, and as if their memory had improved. “We saw results that were consistent with the preclinical work in mice.”
Ambrosia’s trial initially intended to enroll 600 patients, but in the end only included 81 individuals.
The effectiveness — and advisability — of even that small Ambrosia trial has been challenged by those who maintain it holds the potential to do more harm than good:
Irina and Michael Conboy, two University of California at Berkeley researchers who’ve published research on young blood transfusions in mice, called Ambrosia’s plans “dangerous.”
“They quite likely could inflict bodily harm,” Irina Conboy [said].
Michael Conboy said part of the problem is simply the fact that there’s too much old blood for the young blood to have a substantial effect on its own.
“Is there really something in the young blood that would override all the negative effects from the old blood?” Conboy said. “Until someone repeats that I’m not sure that I believe it. Even scientists with the best of intentions can observe something that’s a fluke.”
Meanwhile, the Conboys said there are substantial risks with giving older people the young blood of donors. Those include a heightened immune response which is triggered with increasing magnitude every time the procedure is completed.
The important points here are that 1) Nobody involved in any such studies (which are still largely confined to rodents) is “ingesting” the blood of children — the few research efforts using humans to date involved subjects’ receiving infusions/transfusions of blood plasma, not drinking blood, and 2) Even the controversial Ambrosia trial used blood plasma donated by young adults, not “young children.” In no case are “world leaders and elite businessmen … lining up to ingest the blood of young children,” as falsely claimed by News Punch.