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FDA: Beware of Young Blood Transfusions

They're 'potentially harmful,' and claims aren't proven
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 20, 2019 8:13 AM CST
Transfusion of human blood plasma, which has a yellow color, is shown here.   (Getty Images/sudok1)

(Newser) – The FDA has come down hard on young blood transfusions, touted by startups in several states as an anti-aging "cure" that can improve strength, memory, and even reverse the effects of Alzheimer's. Infusions of blood plasma from young donors into older patients "should not be assumed to be safe or effective," the agency said Tuesday. "Such treatments have no proven clinical benefits for the uses for which these clinics are advertising them and are potentially harmful," with risks including allergic reactions and the spread of infectious diseases. The FDA added it's "concerned that some patients are being preyed upon by unscrupulous actors." The Guardian reports startup Ambrosia, which was charging $8,000 for a 1.5-liter plasma transfusion, "appeared to have immediately shut down following the FDA announcement."

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb tells CNBC the warning to consumers is a first step, with possible enforcement actions to follow in the coming months. Ambrosia founder Jesse Karmazin had planned to open a clinic in New York City in early 2019, but was left as the California-based company's sole employee after its president and chief operating officer departed in December, per the Huffington Post. "In compliance with the FDA announcement … we have ceased patient treatments," the company's website reads. It previously described plasma transfusions as a "medical treatment," per CNN, which points out Ambrosia's name refers to the mythical, immortality-granting food and drink of the Greek gods. (More on Ambrosia's work here.)

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