A researcher has discovered that the blood of the young may have regenerative powers for the elderly.
Her son’s research has found that blood from young mice can improve the learning and memory of old ones, and she’s certainly not the only one to wonder what this could mean for humans. In his lab at UCSF and his postdoc lab at Stanford, Villeda and colleagues injected old mice with blood plasma from young mice, and vice versa. They found that the senescent rodents learned quicker and grew more neurons after infusions from young blood, while the juvenile mice got correspondingly worse at learning new tricks.
Perhaps this is what turns us to vampirism. Or not. As the article mentions later, any treatment developed based on such studies would depend on synthetic proteins, not blood from live humans.
At best, it provides a new metaphoric through line for the vampire genre which has become so prevalent it has grown stale.
As Gosselink points out, old age was so rare in less-developed societies that people who achieved it were granted a certain amount of status and even a mystical cachet. Later, the elderly might have been mocked or isolated, but age was still not seen as an illness. It’s only in recent centuries, as old age has become more and more commonplace, that we have started to venerate youth; ageing is now associated not with fortunate longevity but with decrepitude and disease. And accordingly, our magical thinking has expanded to find mystical cures for loss of vitality. That’s why a strange light appears in people’s eyes when they hear about the mouse blood experiment. We are culturally primed to look to sympathetic magic as a means for curing what ails us, and old age is now regarded as a disease to be fought.