Russian Scientists Make Progress on Secret of Eternal Life

By The Siberian Times
The Siberian Times
The Siberian Times
October 7, 2015 Updated: October 13, 2015

From The Siberian Times: Scientists have decoded the DNA of a bacteria found thriving in ancient permafrost, and are now seeking to understand the genes that provide its extraordinary longevity. 

Work is also underway to study an unexplained positive impact the bacteria has on living organisms, notably human blood cells, mice, fruit flies, and crops. Professor Sergey Petrov, chief researcher of Tyumen Scientific Center, said: “In all these experiments, Bacillus F stimulated the growth and also strengthened the immune system. The experiments on human red and white blood cells 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 at Moscow State University. Similar bacteria were discovered by Siberian scientist Vladimir Repin in the brain of an extinct woolly mammoth preserved by permafrost.

Permafrost on Mamontova Gora (Mammoth Mountain) in Siberia's Sakha Republic. (Sergei Goltsov)
Permafrost on Mamontova Gora (Mammoth Mountain) in Siberia’s Sakha Republic. (Sergei Goltsov)
“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.”
— Dr. Anatoli Brouchkov, Moscow State University

“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 to produce offspring.”

Mice grannies not only began to dance, but also to produce offspring.
— Dr. Viktor Chernyavsky

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 ability to rejuvenate 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.

Dr. Brouchkov said: “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 damage. 

Organisms capable of destroying petroleum molecules, turning them into water, have potential to clean up oil spills.

“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 complexity of the question are nearly the same.”

He said that the bacteria has survived for millions of years deep in the Siberian ice. “To state the exact age of the 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.”

The bacteria were also preserved in other extreme conditions, he said. “Some of them were found in amber, some even in rock salt. Furthermore, in rock salt bacteria aged half a billion years was found.”

“I would say, there exist [in the world] immortal bacteria, immortal beings. 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, from damage, and to use them to fight our ageing. It’s the main riddle of mankind and I believe we must work to solve it,” said Dr. Brouchkov. 

The bacteria not only stimulates growth in crops, but also increases resistance to frost.

“Of course the discussions are ongoing. There are a lot of sceptics who do not believe the bacteria are really old,” he said. “I believe that we all need to start studying these immortal beings, but at the moment not so many of us are doing this. We are arguing, discussing, instead of [doing sufficient] research”

One place where active research is underway is in Tymen, western Siberia, under Professor Petrov. He has found through experiments with copepods (a group of small crustaceans), mice, crops, and human blood cells, that Bacillus F stimulated growth and strengthened the immune system. 

“Now we are focused on experiments with the crops,” Petrov said. “The bacteria stimulates the growth of crops, increases productivity. This year we completed the laboratory studies and went to the field trials. We will look at the results. Before sowing seeds we put them into a solution containing a culture of the bacterium. We have harvested, but the results are not completely processed yet.”

According to his preliminary results, the bacteria not only stimulates growth in crops, but also increases resistance to frost. The bacteria enhances photosynthesis.

He said, “It is clear that the bacteria are much more effective than chemicals.”