The pharma world might finally have its Fyre Fest — a mysterious company run purely on hype which seems (to even the most casual observer) to be something of a scam. The story starts with Jesse Karmazin, a man who, like many before him, is determined to find the ever-elusive Fountain of Youth. But instead of crossing oceans and displacing people, the Stanford Medical School grad (who is not a doctor and has no medical certifications) founded a startup called Ambrosia.
The generic-sounding name disguises a bold (if painfully idiotic) concept: Karmazin wants to infuse people with the blood of the young and beautiful. After numerous tests for safety and results (which enthusiastically concluded something along the lines of “it won’t kill you, but demands further study“), Ambrosia is now accepting patients at “clinics” around the country. There are no addresses given for these clinics, but have no fear — you can buy one liter of blood for $8,000 on Paypal, so it’s probably all good.
The idea here is to take “young plasma” or “young blood” and replenish older patients’ blood with it. Because… maybe it’s not our bodies that age but our blood? Who knows, the website doesn’t elaborate.
Of course, this procedure isn’t covered by any insurance plan and doctors and scientists are largely skeptical of the benefits and safety of the process, but that didn’t stop Karmazin from charging his 81 test patients the whole amount of the procedure while running his clinical trial. Using the money from that experiment (without publishing results) the entrepreneur has set up shop in Houston, Phoenix, Omaha, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Tampa.
Apparently, there is some demand for this. Karmazin started off with a business partner — ex-CEO of Ambrosia, David Cavalier — who has mentioned that the original inquiry, inviting people to pay out of their own pockets to become guinea pigs led to the creation of a wait list after more than 100 names were taken down. Cavalier, who has since stepped down, stated that the infusion of 1.5 liters into each of the trial patients, with the blood of donors ages 16-25, took place at the facilities of a physician named David Wright, who owns a private IV therapy center.
According to Karmazin, his (unpublished) test results show that the transfused felt rejuvenated and “renewed focus and improved appearance and muscle tone.” But according to two University of California at Berkeley researchers, Irina and Michael Conboy, Ambrosia’s procedures could really jack a person up. Irina said, “You are [likely] being infused with somebody else’s blood and it doesn’t match. That unleashes a strong immune reaction.”
Back in September, Cavalier said Ambrosia was testing trial patients’ blood for compatibility to the new blood. This was around the same time he said they would publish the data from the “investigational study,” and before he dipped on the company altogether. Meanwhile, the insanely vague website could easily be mistaken as belonging to a homeopathic allergy medicine or an organic gum company.