The Bloody Tale of Ambrosia, the Startup That Wants to Slow Aging

Jesse Karmazin gave young blood to old people, hoping to work miracles. Then the FDA brought the hammer down.

Bloomberg
Bloomberg
Published in
7 min readFeb 25, 2019

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Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

By Olivia Carville

In 2016, a tiny startup announced an experiment that seemed equal parts medieval sorcery and science fiction: It would inject older people with the blood plasma of young donors in a bid to slow aging.

For three years, Ambrosia Chief Executive Officer Jesse Karmazin charged patients $8,000 to infuse one liter of plasma as part of an unorthodox, crowd-funded clinical trial. Karmazin promised extraordinary results — going so far as to proclaim in media interviews that his treatment “comes pretty close” to immortality.

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration poured cold water on his improbable dream. The regulator, echoing individual medical experts, issued a warning saying the treatment’s benefits are unproven and that the practice could be harmful.

“We’re concerned that some patients are being preyed upon by unscrupulous actors touting treatments of plasma from young donors as cures and remedies,” the FDA said, without naming any companies or individuals. Ambrosia — named after the mythical food that conferred immortality on…

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