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Biotech Science Idle

Meet the Scientist Who Injected Himself With 3.5 Million-Year-Old Bacteria (vice.com) 206

Press2ToContinue writes with this profile of Anatoli Brouchkov, a scientist who isn't afraid to take an extremely hands-on approach to science. Vice reports: "Anatoli Brouchkov is a soft-spoken guy with silver hair, and when he lets out a reserved chuckle, his eyes light up like he was belly laughing. If you met him on the street, you'd never guess that he once injected himself with a 3.5 million-year-old strain of bacteria, just to see what would happen. According to Brouchkov, Bacillus F has a mechanism that has enabled it to survive for so long beneath the ice, and that the same mechanism could be used to extend human life, too—perhaps, one day, forever. In tests, Brouchkov says the bacteria allowed female mice to reproduce at ages far older than typical mice. Fruit flies, he told the Siberian Times, also experienced a 'positive impact' from exposure to the bacteria."
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Meet the Scientist Who Injected Himself With 3.5 Million-Year-Old Bacteria

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  • So he's a crank? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eunuchswear ( 210685 ) on Monday December 21, 2015 @06:09AM (#51157491) Journal

    According to Brouchkov, Bacillus F has a mechanism that has enabled it to survive for so long beneath the ice, and that the same mechanism could be used to extend human life, too—perhaps, one day, forever.

    Nutter.

    • Yup. Plus, he's making the story about himself rather than the science - it's pretty obvious he's had one too many screenings of The Fly.

    • At first, I thought he meant the genetics of the bacteria, or some mechanism in the cell. But then he just injects it in himself hoping for what? A cross-species genetic swap or that the bacteria would replace his body's cells in placement and function?
      • by Bengie ( 1121981 ) on Monday December 21, 2015 @09:08AM (#51157943)
        Since something like 99.99% of bacteria is harmless to humans and this bacteria predates humans, he just wanted to see how quickly his immune system would destroy it.
      • Or mere exposure to the bacteria has potential beneficial effects, which would seem likely considering the results with mice and fruit flies.

        Keep in mind that our bodies are roughly 97% bacteria by cell count, if only a few percent by mass, and we're only just beginning to understand the symbiotic benefits beyond digestion. Until quite recently we operated under the assumption that the bacteria that colonize us were primarily infectious parasites, and only recently have mainstream scientists begun to serio

      • He'd watched "The Thing" one too many times and thought it'd be cool if his head could separate from his body, sprout crab legs, and walk across the floor on its own.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...you can't live forever, unless you're frozen in ice.

    • Plus injecting yourself with 3.5 billion year old bacteria "just to see what happens" is not how you do real science since the only thing you will learn is whether this species of bacteria is dangerous to humans. He seems to have mistaken a Marvel comic for a science textbook.
      • Indeed, you need control and test groups to inject and monitor. Sample size of one is sure sign of a non-scientist, as is making the scientist a simultaneous test subject.

    • No, then your dead. More fully dead than most in fact, since all your cells have been ruptured by ice crystals rather than continuing their individual survival for a time.

  • Sounds like it's gonna make a good Marvel comics.
  • Russians (Score:5, Funny)

    by Crowd Computing ( 4269575 ) on Monday December 21, 2015 @06:18AM (#51157509)
    Russian roulette, vodka, communism, zombie bacteria, Vladimir Putin -- Russians really know how to take risks.
    • Re:Russians (Score:4, Funny)

      by vikingpower ( 768921 ) on Monday December 21, 2015 @07:23AM (#51157645) Homepage Journal

      No generalized health insurance, the NRA, limitless capitalism, sugar in nearly all processed foods, Trump, the Bushes - Americans really know how to take risks.

      • by hey! ( 33014 )

        It's hyperbole to lump George H. W. Bush and George W. in together. While there's no question that George H.W. had a leg up in life because of family connections, he is a combat veteran with a long and distinguished career in business and public service. I disagree with him politically, but if I ever met him I'd be honored to offer him my hand and thank him for his service to this country.

      • No generalized health insurance, the NRA, limitless capitalism, sugar in nearly all processed foods, Trump, the Bushes - Americans really know how to take risks.

        Sheh.... You know it ALL started by a group of folks who took great risks, sailed across an ocean with their families and supplies, landed in some remote, inaccessible land they knew nothing about, hoping to make a better life for themselves and descendants. Ever since, it's been generally the same kind of folks who choose to come here. Risk takers, big thinkers, people who work hard to make things better for themselves and their children. So why are you surprised?

  • Too unique (Score:5, Funny)

    by GbrDead ( 702506 ) on Monday December 21, 2015 @06:24AM (#51157523)

    > If you met him on the street, you'd never guess that he once injected himself with a 3.5 million-year-old strain of bacteria...

      Well, I wouldn't guess this for anybody.

  • I call bullshit. How could an extremophile that's highly adapted for cold temperatures not only survive in the elevated temperature of a mammal body, not only evade the mammal adaptive immune system that is so effective diseases have to be highly specialised to defeat it, not only have any kind of physiological effect, but a positive one too?

    • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

      I call bullshit. How could an extremophile that's highly adapted for cold temperatures not only survive in the elevated temperature of a mammal body, not only evade the mammal adaptive immune system that is so effective diseases have to be highly specialised to defeat it, not only have any kind of physiological effect, but a positive one too?

      I'd say that is what happened - but maybe he has qualifications that we don't. Maybe he will become a Russian super hero...

    • IANAB, but I do have a question: If these claims have merit (not saying they do), could it perhaps be something genetic or a compound being excreted by this bacteria that's ostensibly causing this? I know for a fact at least that bacteria are promiscuous [sciencemag.org] and can pass on genetic material to other bacteria. In fact, it's that mechanism by which many forms of bacterial are becoming antibiotic resistance.

      • I know for a fact at least that bacteria are promiscuous [sciencemag.org] and can pass on genetic material to other bacteria

        ... and that's where it falls down. This might change the lifestyles of his bacterial commensal flora. But it's not going to change him because his eukaryotic cells won't take a DNA transfer from the prokaryotic cells of the bacteria.

        Did you ever put diesel into your petrol car? Didn't work too well. Now try putting diesel into your AutoGas [wikipedia.org]car (propane/ butane mix) and you're getting

    • by GrumpySteen ( 1250194 ) on Monday December 21, 2015 @08:48AM (#51157869)

      The bacteria in question is a strain of Bacillus Cerus [wikipedia.org]. Some strains of Bacillus Cerus cause food poisoning, but others are used as a probiotic to reduce the incidence of salmonella in farm animals intestines. We already know that the intestinal biome of animals can have a serious affect on the animals' health, so the idea that this strain could be beneficial is completely plausible.

      As far as this bacteria being an extremophile? Not so much. Baccilus Cerus undergoes sporulation when conditions are unfavorable. Spores are difficult to kill. Leaving behind spores when you die so that a new generation can arise when conditions are more favorable isn't the same as thriving in an extreme environment. If it was, humans would have to be classed as extremophiles too because we can freeze an embryo and implant it later.

      • by AC-x ( 735297 )

        From what I've read there doesn't seem to be any strains of Bacillus Cerus that can survive in the bloodstream though, other than in immunocompromised patients. It may not be an extremophile, but an Arctic strain should have at least some cold adaptations.

  • by dywolf ( 2673597 ) on Monday December 21, 2015 @08:53AM (#51157877)

    There can be only one.

  • by hackertourist ( 2202674 ) <hackertourist.xmsnet@nl> on Monday December 21, 2015 @09:03AM (#51157917)

    but how did he manage to inject exactly 3.5 of them?

  • Can't he just rub his penis just to see what would happen, like everybody else?

  • I'm not slightly medically knowledgeable, but I'm wondering if this guy thought through that he could have infected the rest of us from stuff our bodies had no defenses? Like smallpox and the indigenous tribes in the Americas. I'm fine with him killing himself in the name of science (think Curie), but this strikes me as a little too cowboy.
  • "That's not how it works. That's not how any of this works."

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