Since my "fountain of youth" post in 2011 there has been a burst of research showing that factors in the blood of younger animals can actually reverse the aging process in older ones. Carl Zimmer points to several of the studies. Wagers and collaborators find that restoring levels of a circulating protein growth differentiation factor 11 (GDF11), a skeletal muscle rejuvenating factor whose levels normally decline with age, reverses muscle dysfunction by increased stength and endurance exercise capacity. Further, GDF11 alone can improve the cerebral vasculature and enhance neurogenesis. Villeda et al find that structural and cognitive enhancements elicited by exposure to young blood are mediated, in part, by activation of the cyclic AMP response element binding protein (Creb) in the aged hippocampus.
So, should we all be rushing out to shoot ourselves up with injections of GDF!!? Maybe not... waking up too many stem cells to start multiplying might increase the incidence of cancer.