If you found a bacteria that has survived in Siberian permafrost for 3.5 million years, what’s the first thing you would do with it? If you said, “Inject it into my bloodstream,” you must be Russian scientist Anatoli Brouchkov, who did just that two years ago and believes he may have discovered the fountain – or at least the bacteria-filled water droplet – of youth.
Bacillus F was discovered in 2009 in permafrost located at a site called Mammoth Mountain in the Sakha Republic - the largest and coldest region of Siberia. Since then, scientists have been studying it and last month announced that they had decoded its DNA. That was nothing compared to the revelation this week that Dr. Anatoli Brouchkov, head of the Geocryology Department, Moscow State University, injected himself with the bacteria two years ago. Is he mad?
That question is still unanswered but he says he’s definitely feeling better. Brouchkov and his colleagues tested the bacteria on plants, mice and fruit flies first. Epidemiologist Dr. Viktor Chernyavsky reported on the results:
… mice grannies not only began to dance, but also produced offspring.
Those results convinced Brouchkov to try some inactivated bacterial culture on himself. After two years, he’s still alive. That’s a good sign, but a slightly better one is that he says he hasn’t had the flu since becoming a human guinea pig.
Brouchkov is obviously hoping for more than just flu season relief. The Yakut people native to the Mammoth Mountain area appear to live longer than average and he believes it’s due to the bacteria entering their drinking water when the permafrost melts. He also feels it has given him more energy and says this may be an indication of its “bacteria of youth” potential.
We have to work out how this bacteria prevents aging. I think that is the way this science should develop. What is keeping that mechanism alive? And how can we use it for our own benefits?
The researchers will be studying the DNA to determine which genes in the bacteria are responsible for keeping it alive for 3.5 million years and which proteins protect it from the breakdown caused by aging.
Meanwhile, Dr. Brouchkov is looking in the mirror and wondering if he’s mad, immortal or just immune to the flu. What do you think? Would YOU test the bacteria on yourself?