How much would you pay to stop the effects of aging? At least one man is willing to spend millions of dollars a year on the quest.
Tech entrepreneur Bryan Johnson (the former head of Braintree, which once owned Venmo) shells out $2 million a year on attempts to slow down, or completely reverse, the aging process, Bloomberg reported on Monday. Part of his plan involves swapping blood with his dad and his son, in a process that sounds like something straight out of a sci-fi novel—or that one episode of Silicon Valley.
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Yet it’s completely real, and the reporter Ashlee Vance accompanied Johnson, 45, and his family to the clinic where they undergo the procedure. Talmage, Johnson’s 17-year-old son, has a liter of his blood removed and reduced to its various parts (plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets). Johnson does the same, and then has Talmage’s plasma put back into him. Finally, Johnson’s 70-year-old dad, Richard, also gets rid of his blood, then takes in Johnson’s plasma.
Johnson has been doing this for months, although he first started with plasma from an anonymous donor. It’s all part of his attempt to slow down aging, something he’s called Project Blueprint. Along with the plasma infusions, he’s tailored his eating, sleeping, and exercise habits to reach the peak human condition—but his experiments with blood are by far the most attention-getting.
Plasma infusions are typically used to treat conditions like liver disease, burns, and blood disorders, but they’ve more recently become associated with rejuvenation therapy. Experiments with mice have shown potential benefits, but studies in humans are rare, and some researchers warn against elective transfusions in healthy people.
“We have not learned enough to suggest this is a viable human treatment for anything,” Charles Brenner, a biochemist at L.A.’s City of Hope National Medical Center, told Bloomberg. “To me, it’s gross, evidence-free and relatively dangerous.”
Johnson’s medical team, however, has okayed the transfusions, and Johnson is closely measuring his blood, brain, and organ performance. Eventually, he hopes to share those data with the public, using himself—and his family—as a human test case in the field of anti-aging.