Russian scientists make progress on secret of eternal life
Scientists have decoded the DNA of a bacteria found thriving in ancient permafrost, and are now seeking to understand the genes which provide its extraordinary longevity.
Work is also underway to study a so far unexplained positive impact on living organisms, notably human blood cells, mice, fruit flies, and crops. Professor Sergey Petrov, chief researcher of Tyumen Scientific Centre, said: 'In all these experiments, Bacillus F stimulated the growth and also strengthened the immune system. The experiments on human erythrocytes and leucocytes were also very optimistic. '
The bacteria were originally found on Mamontova Gora - Mammoth Mountain - in Siberia's Sakha Republic, also known as Yakutia, in 2009 by Dr Anatoli Brouchkov, head of the Geocryology Department, Moscow State University. Similar bacteria were discovered by Siberian scientist Vladimir Repin in the brain of an extinct woolly mammoth preserved by permafrost.
Dr Anatoli Brouchkov, head of the Geocryology Department, Moscow State University, on Mamontova Gora. Picture: Anatoli Brouchkov
'We did a lot of experiments on mice and fruit flies and we saw the sustainable impact of our bacteria on their longevity and fertility,' said Dr Brouchkov. 'But we do not know yet exactly how it works. In fact, we do not know exactly how aspirin works, for example, but it does. The same is true here: we cannot understand the mechanism, but we see the impact.'
Describing the discoveries as a 'scientific sensation' and an 'elixir of life', Yakutsk epidemiologist Dr Viktor Chernyavsky said: 'The bacteria gives out biologically active substances throughout its life, which activates the immune status of experimental animals.' As a result, 'mice grannies not only began to dance, but also produced offspring'.
If the same substance were to be given to people, it could cause a significant improvement in their health, leading to the discovery of an 'elixir of life', said Dr Chernyavsky.
A number of claims are now being made for the potential of three different strains of bacteria found in the permafrost, among them the rejuvenating of the life of living beings. Another is the potential development of organisms capable of destroying petroleum molecules, turning them into water, with the potential one day to create a new system for cleaning up oil spills. A third strain of ancient bacteria is capable of eliminating cellulose molecules.
- Immortality, the Elixir of Life and the Food of the Gods
- Archaeologists recreate Elixir of Long Life recipe from unearthed bottle
- Donkey milk: Ancient elixir of life experiences modern-day resurgence
'The key question is what provides the vitality of this bacteria, but it as complicated as which human genes are responsible for cancer and how to cure it.' Pictures: Anatoli Brouchkov
Dr Brouchkov told The Siberian Times: 'We have completed the deciphering of Bacillus DNA and, more importantly, we have completely restored a sequence of genes in it. This work was ongoing for several years and it finished at the end of last year. Now we face the most complicated task - the attempts to find out which genes are providing the longevity of bacteria, and which proteins are protecting the DNA structure from damages.
'We want to understand the mechanisms of the protection of genome, the functioning of the genes. The key question is what provides the vitality of this bacteria, but it is as complicated as which human genes are responsible for cancer and how to cure it. The scale and complicity of the question are nearly the same.' This involves technically difficult research, he said.
He revealed that the bacteria has survived for millions of years deep in the Siberian ice. 'To state the exact age of bacteria, we need to date the permafrost rocks and this is not so easy,' he said. 'There are no exact methods to date the permafrost, but we have solid reason to believe that it is rather old.
'Eastern Siberia is not a warm place even now and 3.5 million years ago it was also rather cold. It already had nearly the same temperature mode as it has now. That is we believe that this permafrost was formed 3.5 million years ago. And we believe that the bacteria could not penetrate to the oldest layer from the earlier ones through the permafrost. This bacteria was isolated from the outer world in ice, so we are quite sure that this bacteria was kept in the permafrost for such a long time. Yet we are still working to prove this.'