Scientists are working on ways to make us retain our youth, not for reasons of vanity, but in order to assist in the treatment of conditions that occur with age, like dementia. Historically, grisly experiments (on mice) provided evidence that young blood could rejuvenate old. More recent research at the University of Ulm in Germany suggests that osteopontin, a protein found in bone marrow, but in decreasing quantities as we age, could be the key. Mixing osteopontin with “old” stem cells caused them to produce white blood cells, literally “making old blood young again.”
These investigations reminded me immediately of the “New lamps for old!” call of the sorcerer in Aladdin, who tricks Aladdin’s wife into exchanging the dusty, old (magic) lamp for a shiny, new (but useless) lamp and, of course, to the powerful poem of the same name by Rudyard Kipling, which laments society’s constant search for the new and resultant discarding of the old, with disastrous results. Let’s hope that the scientists in Ulm have read it too!