The myth that vampire blood heals might not be totally baseless. A new study has shown that young blood can mend old broken bones at a faster rate when it flows in the systems of older individuals.
A new research published in Nature Communications has shown that young blood has the potential of speeding up the recovery of old broken bones in mice.
When older mice with fractures were “administered” with the blood of younger counterparts, the healing process happened faster than usual.
Moreover, the researchers have been able to identify a possible signalling pathway that might account for the effect; if not completely, then partly. However, it is not known as to why would this pathway not function as effectively in older mice.
The signalling molecule involved in the pathway is the protein beta-catenin. It has previously been shown to play an important role in the repair of bone fractures. Its concentration has to be meticulously regulated during the process of healing; this is so because an increase in beta-catenin can lead immature cells supposed to differentiate into new bone cells to instead grow into another type of cell resulting in the formation of scar tissue and not bone. This impacts negatively on the repair process.
Now, how does the age of cells and blood circulation influence the bone healing? To provide more insight into this issue, the researchers took to the technique known as parabiosis to connect circulatory systems of two mice of different ages. That was how it was observed that fractured bones of older mice recovered much faster when young blood flowed in their systems.
The scientists interpreted this finding as follows: beta-catenin signalling was lowered during the early phases of the repair process.
This also happened when older mice were given bone marrow transplants.
The opposite was also found to be true: young mice recovered slower from fractures when given the blood obtained from older mice.
“It’s not that bone cells can’t heal as effectively as we age, but that they actually can heal if they are given the right cues from their environment,” senior author Benjamin Alman said in a statement.
“It’s a matter of identifying the right pathway to target, and that’s what’s exciting about this work.”