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Bay Area Researchers Key on Blood Plasma to Fight Age-Related Diseases

SAN CARLOS (KPIX) -- A year ago, the FDA issued a warning to consumers to stay away from unscrupulous clinics that offered blood taken from young people to use as an anti-aging remedy.

But one Bay Area biotech company is actually gathering the scientific evidence and conducting well-designed studies, under the approval of the FDA.

Alkahest is located in San Carlos. Scientists there are working on innovative therapies for diseases that are linked to aging which include Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and age-related macular degeneration.

Researchers analyzed thousands of samples provided by Grifols, a multinational plasma company. In these samples, they discovered hundreds of proteins that either increase or decrease with aging.

Dr. Karoly Nikolich is CEO of Alkahest. He told KPIX that the proteins which increase with age cause tissue damage, inflammation and neurodegeneration.

Proteins which decrease with age are generally beneficial.

These proteins, which are found in higher amounts in younger people, repair and rejuvenate tissues and cells and help with brain function.

"This is a fundamental new insight into understanding the molecular basis of aging," explained Dr. Nikolich.

Alkahest is now in early stage clinical trials that are designed to test its therapies. Preliminary results in small groups of patients indicate the therapies are safe and some studies -- in macular degeneration and in Alzheimer's disease -- suggest a therapeutic benefit.

The early results need to confirmed and replicated in larger studies. More clinical trials are now being recruited or planned.


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