Giving ageing people a transfusion of young blood could delay Alzheimer's, according to US scientists.
They believe that changes in our blood could cause memory and other brain deterioration. Providing a supply of fresh blood from younger people could help the nerve cells rejuvenate in treatment that has been described as "vampire-like".
In the future, middle aged people could start getting transfusions of blood from people in their 20s to prevent their brain from deterioration.
These hopes stem from Stanford University research into mice. When old mice were given blood transfusions they performed better on a memory task using a maze than those who aged naturally.
Brain scans also showed their brains repaired connections to enhance their memory.
Study leader Dr Saul Villeda told the Society for Neuroscience conference in New Orleans that he believes old blood contains more inflammatory proteins, which could be responsible for the damage.
Now he plans to test the treatment in mice with a form of Alzheimer's disease.
"What I am thinking is if we can address it earlier, when our body still has the control to prevent this from happening, then we might not have to cure Alzheimer's, we might just be able to stop it," he said.
Chris Hatherly, national research manager at Alzheimer's Australia, told ninemsn the research is exciting.
"It's not something that anyone has ever done before –– it's cutting edge," he said.
"There's been a lot of expensive drug trials that have fallen over, so we're looking quite desperately for new approaches to try and tackle Alzheimer's disease. This is a promising approach but it is still quite a long way off."
But Hatherly said it wouldn't come without drawbacks.
"It would potentially open the door for a fairly straight-forward and quite safe and inexpensive approach, but there's already problems in terms of supply of blood for emergencies," he said.
"How we find this supply of young people's blood would be a question."
Hatherly said this research could also pave the way for new drugs.
"If it were to prove positive, there might be ways of working out what it is about the young people's blood that is helping and see if they can isolate that and turn it into pharmaceuticals instead of blood transfusions," he said.
"But we wouldn't be advocating that people ask their doctors for blood transfusions if they're worrying about their memory."