‘Silicon Valley’ Fact Check: Are ‘Blood Boys’ a Thing?

Let’s ponder blood transfusions as a means to reverse aging

Last Updated: May 22, 2017 @ 4:00 PM

Horse-mating scenes aside, “Silicon Valley” has now really gone beyond the pale.

In Sunday’s episode, tech “maverick” and Hooli founder Gavin Belson (Matt Ross) made use of a “blood boy” — receiving a blood transfusion from a young man in an effort to life-hack his way to the fountain of youth.

As it turns out, the practice depicted in Season 4’s Episode 5 isn’t out of reach in real life.

In the episode, aptly titled “The Blood Boy,” Gavin listens to a presentation from Richard while his “transfusion associate” Bryce (Graham Rogers) sits by his side, supplying him with his young blood. As Gavin puts it, blonde-haired Bryce is a “picture of health” who looks like a “nazi propaganda poster.” And as his blood gets drawn, Bryce becomes more weary as the “procedure” takes place.

Soon, fatigued Bryces may be sluggishly moving around the world en masse. “Parabiosis,” or blood transfusions as a means of reversing aging, is gaining steam in the Bay Area of California. And one startup is betting on it. Monterey-based Ambrosia LLC launched a clinical trial last year to inject clients with the plasma of 16-25 year-olds. The price tag? $8,000 for the treatment.

The science, however, has yet to support the hypothesis that younger, more healthy blood has benefits. “People want to believe that young blood restores youth, even though we don’t have evidence that it works in humans and we don’t understand the mechanism of how mice look younger,” said Stanford neuroscientist Tony Wyss-Coray to the MIT Tech Review earlier this year.

Of course, it hasn’t been proven bogus either.

Parabiosis has drawn attention from legitimate tech titans — most notably Gawker-killing, Facebook-finding venture capitalist Peter Thiel. “I’m looking into parabiosis stuff, which I think is really interesting” said Thiel in an interview with Inc. in 2015. “I think there are a lot of these things that have been strangely under-explored.”

If the practice continues to gain traction in a region obsessed with immortality, don’t be surprised to see a flock of able-bodied young people offering their blood in exchange for a foot in the door — just like Bryce did in HBO’s latest episode of “Silicon Valley.”

Ambrosia declined to comment on this story.