Want to live long? Try ancient bacteria

Scientists believe Bacillus F could help people survive to the age of 140. Source: ShutterStock/Legion Media

Scientists believe Bacillus F could help people survive to the age of 140. Source: ShutterStock/Legion Media

A species of the recently-discovered bacteria Bacillus F (Frost) could prolong the average span of a human life to 140 years, while raising immunity and fertility. Russian scientist Anatoly Brushkov discovered this bacterial fount of youth and voluntarily tried the treatment on himself.

Anatoly Brushkov has been conducting experiments for over six years, injecting mice with an ancient bacteria called ‘Bacillus F’, which was discovered in the Siberian permafrost. Brushkov’s trials on mice indicate that the bacteria has raised the life span of the mice on which it was used.   The mice have also become more active.

Brushkov, a professor of geology and mineralogy, was so intrigued by the discovery that he decided to test the bacteria on himself. ‘Bacillus F’ was discovered around three years ago. It had survived in a dormant state for millennia in the Siberian permafrost, where he found it during an expedition to Russia’s Yakutia region.

“What surprised us almost immediately was that Bacillus F didn’t show any signs of aging,” said Brushkov, who is head of the geo-cryology department at Moscow State University's Geology Faculty. “My colleagues and I cultivated the bacteria and started studying them more closely. We discovered that while their cells are similar to our own, the bacteria live longer. So we started injecting mice with a solution containing Bacillus F, and their lifespan increased by up to 30 percent.”

Later, when scientists also realized that Bacillus F boosts immunity, Brushkov injected himself with the same solution, not afraid of the possible side effects.

“I never for a moment have regretted this decision,” he said. 

Elixir of life

Even though Brushkov's colleagues didn’t hide their skepticism about his actions, they nicknamed the solution, “the elixir of life”.

“Oddly enough, the bacteria died very soon after entering the mice; all of them at the same time; but the mice themselves were rejuvenated,” said biologist Vladimir Repin who was head of the laboratory at the start of the experiment.

Some of the mice literally got a second lease of life. “Imagine an old mouse living the last of its average 600 days,” Repin said. “We injected it with the solution, and suddenly it started behaving like it was much younger. All the vital life signs returned to normal and the mouse lived for another year or so. Their lifespan was extended by 30 percent.”

Scientists believe Bacillus F could help people survive to the age of 140. However, mass production of the bacteria is not possible until more research on the mechanism of this rejuvenating process is better understood.

The bacteria with the longest genome

“The atypical cell wall and the peculiar chemical composition of Bacillus F’s proteins induce a stronger immune system response than when other microorganisms are injected into the body,’’ said Nadezhda Mironova, senior researcher at the Institute of Chemical Biology and Fundamental Medicine at the Russian Academy of Sciences. “While it’s a fact that the immune system is more active, the long-term effects of the bacteria are still unknown.”

Researchers said that two subtances found in Bacillus F - the neurotransmitter, glutamate; and the organic acid, taurine - trigger the immune system response. In addition, Bacillus F has a genome that is much longer than any microorganism ever seen before, comprising 600 previously unknown genes.

”I'm sure we will be able to find among these genes the one responsible for longevity,’’ said Vladimir Melnikov, director of the Earth Cryosphere Institute at Russia's Academy of Sciences. “The bacteria managed to survive millions of years thanks to that gene, but to offer it to pharmaceutical companies we first have a tremendous amount of work to do. That said, experiments have already resulted in mice restoring their fertility and beginning to reproduce again.”

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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