When it comes to solving the seemingly impossible question of eternal youth, a scientist in Russia believes there might actually just be something in the water — well, Siberian permafrost to be specific. Call him crazy, but according to Dr. Anatoli Brouchkov, a 3.5 million-year-old bacteria living in Siberia presents the closest thing to a fountain of youth the world has ever seen. What’s even crazier is Brouchkov willingly volunteered himself as a human guinea pig, injecting himself with the ancient bacteria over two years ago. This can’t end badly, right?
While working around Mammoth Mountain in the Yakutia region of Siberia in 2009, Dr. Brouchkov (head of the Geocryology Department at Moscow State University) stumbled upon the bacteria embedded deeply within patches of permafrost. Called Bacillus F, Brouchkov and his team examined the found bacteria and have since uncovered its DNA, allowing them to more closely analyze what kept it alive for so long. This analysis, they hope, will help uncover exactly what mechanisms present in the bacteria helped preserve its genome for not only 3.5 million years, but in a perpetually deep frozen state.
Aside from testing it on himself, Brouchkov also injected the bacteria into living mice, fruit flies, and crops — with each showing significant positive impacts after injection. Concerning the mice, older females introduced to Bacillus F were able to begin reproducing offspring even though their bodies had stopped being able to previously.
“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,” Brouchkov tells the Siberian Times. “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.”
It was because of the successful experiments on mice that Brouchkov decided to inject himself with Bacillus F, effectively putting his “youth elixir” through the ultimate test. In the two years since his injection, the Dr. has reported having the ability to work longer without getting tired and he’s also been able to avoid contracting the flu. The question of whether or not Bacillus F is truly the one responsible for his clean bill of health is still a topic of incredible speculation. To Brouchkov however, he believes the bacteria represents no immediate harm to himself but acknowledges he has no idea what it’s actually doing to him.
“The permafrost is thawing, and I guess these bacteria get into the environment, into the water, so the local population, the Yakut people, in fact, for a long time are getting these cells with water, and even seem to live longer than some other nations,” Brouchkov adds. “So there was no danger for me.”
Despite this somewhat misguided statement, Brouchkov believes properly administered doses of Bacillus F may allow people to live longer, healthier lives. In light of such a discovery, Anatoli and his colleagues applied for a research grant to continue analyzing and testing the bacteria and its composition. With fellow doctors and scientists calling the finding a “scientific sensation” and a potential “elixir of life,” it appears likely Anatoli won’t be hard pressed to find widespread help with the continued research.