A new study led by the researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine revealed that blood plasma infusion, received from young donors, for people with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease could be safe, feasible and improve their functional ability and capacity to perform daily tasks.

Tony Wyss-Coray, a professor of neurology from Stanford proposes a hypothesis that factors in the blood of young mice could revive the brain tissue of old mice and improve their cognitive functions. In order to test the hypothesis, the Stanford researchers developed an early-phase clinical trial called as PLASMA trial – short for Plasma for Alzheimer's Symptom Amelioration.

It was not surprising to find that blood-plasma transfusion was safe, as it has been in widespread use for a long time for other indications. But, the researchers surprised to discover signs that the recipients had improved functional ability, which is the ability to engage in daily basic activities such as medication, paying bills or preparing meals, noted the study leader Sharon Sha.

The current trial involved two stages; in the first stage, nine people with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s were received four-week infusions of either blood plasma taken from people aged 18–30 or placebo, such as saline solution. But the recipients and caregivers were unaware of which of the two infusions they were received. The regimens were swapped subsequently after a six-week “washout” period.

The respondents were completed with the tests and questionnaires before and after four-week infusion periods, which was designed to determine cognition, mood and functional ability amongst the participants.

The second stage involved nine further participants who all received the plasma from young donors, with both the participants and the caregivers being aware of this. These individuals were given the same tests and questionnaires to complete as the first group.

Following a four-week treatment period, the test outcomes were analyzed. Some of the functional ability tests showed a significant improvement in those participants from the first stage of the trial. But there were no significant changes in the both participants’ mood or cognitive ability.

The current trial was not directed to determine the efficacy, so the researchers were astonished to find signs that the participants had improved functional ability. Further studies involving larger cohort would be required, as the present trial carried on a limited number of participants, Sharon Sha concluded.