SAN CARLOS, Calif. — The executives at Alkahest have heard plenty of vampire jokes. They are, after all, turning to blood from young donors in search of an elixir for diseases associated with aging. And yes, they’re in Silicon Valley.
But this five-year-old biotech company led by Genentech alums is doing serious science. It just happens to be working in a field that the Food and Drug Administration rebuked last month with a stern warning, noting that plasma infusions from young people provide “no proven clinical benefit” against diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Alkahest wants to prove clinical benefit in those conditions. To do so, it’s conducting Phase 2 clinical trials of its cocktail, an elixir made of blood plasma stripped down to some 400 types of proteins, just 3 percent of the variety found in whole plasma. Results are expected later this year from a study of 42 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.