Anatoli Brouchkov, a controversial Russian scientist, claims he may have found the secret to eternal life or the "elixir of youth." He claims that after injecting himself with 3.5 million-year-old bacteria found in 2009 in Siberian permafrost, he is stronger and healthier than ever.
According to the Siberian Times, Brouchkov, head of the Geocryology Department at Moscow State University, said that since he injected himself with the bacteria two years ago, he has not had flu or fallen ill.
The Russian scientist claims that Bacillus F, found preserved for 3.5 million years in Siberian permafrost, could help to improve human longevity. It gives out biologically active substances that helped to raise the immune status of laboratory animals, including mice and fruit flies.
Russian researchers, according to Brouchkov, have also found that the bacteria have a "positive impact" on plants and isolated human blood cells.
Professor Sergey Petrov, who has been involved in the studies at the Tyumen Scientific Centre, said studies found that Bacillus F strengthened the immune system.
The researchers discovered in the course of studies that the bacteria were able to rejuvenate older mice. Older female mice that had stopped reproducing regained their fertility. They also found that the bacteria enhanced the self-regeneration powers of plants.
"Mice grannies not only began to dance, but also produced offspring."
Brouchkov noted that the special properties of the bacteria are due to the ability to protect their cells from damage, unlike human cells.
"I would say, there exist immortal bacteria, immortal beings," he said. "They cannot die, to be more precise, they can protect themselves. Our cells are unable to protect themselves from damage. These bacteria cells are able to protect themselves."
"It would be great to find the mechanisms of protection from ageing and to use them to fight with our ageing," he added. "It's is the main riddle of mankind and I believe we must work to solve it."
"I would say, there exist immortal bacteria, immortal beings. They cannot die, to more precise, they can protect themselves."
According to Dr. Viktor Chernyavsky, the epidemiologist involved in the studies, "The bacteria give out biologically active substances throughout its life, which activates the immune status of experimental animals."
The researchers enthused that the results of their research so far indicate they may have found the "elixir of life." They said the study results give hope that the bacteria could be adapted for use in improving human health and longevity, thus fulfilling the age-old dream of the "elixir of life."
But Brouchkov acknowledged that estimation of the age of the Siberian permafrost at 3.5 million years was the best they could make because they were unable to determine through direct methods the age of the permafrost rocks. He explained that "there are no exact methods to date the permafrost, but we have solid reason to believe that it is rather old."
The ancient bacteria were discovered at a site called Mamontova Gor or Ulakhan Suullur (Mammoth Mountain) in the Sakha Republic or Yakutia.
Siberia has been the site of spectacular discoveries of ancient life forms preserved in permafrost. The finds include mammoths and a "mummified puppy" more than 10,000 years old.
The Siberian Times also reports that Russian researchers discovered other strains of bacteria in Siberia. One is able to "destroy petroleum molecules, turning them into water with the potential one day to create a new system for cleaning up oil spills."
Another strain was able to eliminate cellulose molecules.
A Russian scientist, Vladimir Repin, discovered bacteria similar to the Bacillus F in the brain of an extinct woolly mammoth also preserved in permafrost.
Meanwhile, according to Brouchkov, Russian researchers have completely decoded the DNA of Bacillus F. Now they are conducting research to identify the genes that helped it to remain alive in Siberian permafrost for millions of years.
The ultimate goal of the studies is to adapt Bacillus F for use in improving the longevity of humans.
Brouchkov told the Siberian Times that following a series of tests using fruit flies, he decided to quicken the pace of the research by using himself as a guinea pig for the experiment. He claims that after he injected himself with the bacteria, he has been healthier than ever.
He said that after injecting himself he found he could "work longer" and that he has "never had flu for the last two years."
"I started to work longer. I've never had flu for the last two years."
He also noted that due to the warming of permafrost, the bacteria were getting into the environment, specifically water used by the Yakut people, the local Siberian population. Presence of trace amounts of the bacteria in the water used by local Yakut people means that the people have for years been ingesting the bacteria unknowingly. This, he said, could explain why the Yakut are long-lived.
Despite believing that the bacteria were making him healthier, he admitted that he and his research colleagues did not understand how the bacteria worked. But he said that further research would unravel the mystery.
"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."
Brouchkov acknowledged there was a lot of skepticism about their work because some experts in the field doubt the bacteria are as old as 3.5 million years.
He expressed regret that instead of doing their own studies on "these immortal beings," many researchers were arguing and trying to debunk their work.
[Images: Anatoli Brouchkov]