Turns out the satire in the HBO show, Silicon Valley, isn’t exactly fiction. A few days after an episode of the show lampooned a startup for offering blood transfusions to battle aging effects, a real startup pitched a similar program to the Code Conference on June 1.
Ambrosia, according to its website, launched in 2016 and has an objectively ominous mission: “study[ing] the effects of transfusions of young blood plasma.” Founder Dr. Jesse Karmazin told the conference that his company currently has approximately 100 patients, most of whom are of retirement age. Ambrosia’s mission is bizarre, but it’s making a scientific effort to support the idea that young blood could fight the negative symptoms of aging. The company is presently conducting six human clinical trials.
Ambrosia buys its plasma supply from blood banks and CNBC reports that teenagers “donating their blood are not aware that it might be used on healthy adults.” Though the donated blood is typically that of a teen, Ambrosia will buy blood from anyone under 25.
Karmazin stressed that Ambrosia’s goal was not to cure aging, but to recruit people willing to participate in experiments to measure the potential. So far, Ambrosia’s patients have reported positive benefits, but other members of the scientific community have decried the study as unethical. But Ambrosia’s general thesis does have at least one high-profile advocate, though he’s not actually a client: Peter Thiel. The PayPal founder has expressed interest in studying the effects of young blood transfusions. “I’m looking into parabiosis stuff, which I think is really interesting,” Thiel told Inc. in 2016. “This is where they did the young blood into older mice and they found that had a massive rejuvenating effect.”
Whatever the science says, it’s creepy as hell.