been hunting down the legendary fountain of youth since antiquity. Does it
exist? Could it ever, even theoretically, exist? A Russian scientist named Dr.
Anatoli Brouchkov believes it’s out there, and he thinks he found it in 3.5-million-year-old bacteria. So what does Dr. Brouchkov do next? Inject
himself with it, of course.
Brouchkov first discovered this ancient bacterium, Bacillus F, in 2009, frozen
deep in the permafrost on a mountain in Siberia’s Yakutsk region. Like, even
deeper in the permafrost than wooly mammoth remains. Dr. Brouchkov estimated it
was 3.5 million years old, and he was immediately impressed with it. Despite
its advanced age, it was still alive.
seems to make everything around it live longer, too. (“I don’t shine if
you don’t shine,” it would say, if it could talk.) Early studies have
looked at its effect on mice, fruit flies and crops, and the results have been
so promising that Dr. Viktor Chernyavsky, a Russian epidemiologist, has called
it an “elixir of life.”
calling it “Bacillus F” for now, but he’s right that this bacteria is
to it live longer, and stay fertile even as “grannies,” as
Chernyavsky put it. Crops exposed to Bacillus F grow faster and are more
resistant to frost. The people in the Yakutia region even live longer than
average — perhaps because Bacillus F has infiltrated their water supply.
Bacillus F knows life hacks humans don’t. (We can’t even live a measly one
million years.) It’s still a relatively new discovery, though, which means
scientists don’t understand what mechanism, exactly, makes it so hardy. So far,
Dr. Brouchkov and his colleagues have sequenced the bacteria’s DNA, but they
have yet to figure out which of its genes make it so death proof. It’s a complicated
question — roughly as complex as identifying the genes that cause cancer, Dr.
words, it’s going to be a while until you can buy a Bacillus F injection at
hasn’t been formally tested on humans, and no one knows how it works — but Dr.
Brouchkov wasn’t worried about being the first human guinea pig for a
mysterious substance. As he likes to point out, no one really knows how aspirin
just curious,” he said.
decided, YOLO. He’d inject himself with the bacteria, and see what happened.
“It’s not real science,” he’s acknowledged. (In other words, it’s not
a controlled trial.) But… maybe now he’ll live forever!
definitely still alive, and he says he’s feeling better than ever. In 2015, he
said he hadn’t had a cold or flu in the two years since he injected himself. He
also reported higher energy levels. This could all be the placebo effect, or it
could be something more — we need more research to know for sure if Bacillus F
can extend human life. But if Dr. Brouchkov lives past age 1,000, that also
could be, you know, a sign.
Scientist Injects Himself with 3.5-Million-Year-Old Bacteria