Can a little fresh blood reverse the damage of Alzheimer’s disease? Researchers trying to answer the question say they found the treatments are at least safe. And they got a tiny hint that they just may help. advertisement The team at Stanford University found that infusions of plasma from healthy young men didn’t hurt the 18 Alzheimer’s patients who got them. And a few of the patients seemed to do a little better in the skills of everyday living, although memory and thinking skills were not affected. This does not mean that blood transfusions could treat Alzheimer’s disease, researchers cautioned. The study is a very long way from showing that. But it does show it’s worth going forward with more tests, said Dr. Sharon Sha, who ran the test program at Stanford. “Although it’s very exciting, it is very early days,” added Sha. “We need to do the next steps to understand what is in the young plasma.” Plasma is the liquid part of blood, with the red cells and immune cells removed. The researchers were working off earlier studies from the lab of Tony Wyss-Coray at Stanford, who found that infusing young human plasma into old mice seemed to perk them up. The work made headlines and launched a company, Alkahest, that’s working to develop young human plasma into treatments for aging-related diseases. Related: Researchers Seek Test to Predict Alzheimer's advertisement Alkahest plans to move forward with formal clinical trials in 40 volunteers next year, said Joe McCracken, vice president for development at the company. "We do have a study with what we think is a commercially viable product that will start early next year," McCracken said. Stanford was doing what’s called a proof of concept trial, just to check the safety of the treatment, in 18 volunteers with moderate Alzheimer’s disease. At first they did what’s called a blinded trial --- treating half the patients with real plasma, and giving half the patients a sham infusion, with no one knowing which patient got the real treatment. Then they swapped the two sides. Later, because it was taking so much time and effort, they cut the trial to just nine people and all nine knew they were getting the real thing – a unit