Libmonster ID: BY-1858
Author(s) of the publication: Prepared by Vladimir GOLDMAN

Since time immemorial people have been anxious to make their life longer and keep the inevitable old age and death from the door. The only remedy toward this end-a healthy way of life- helps but little in the end. What a pity! And yet humankind's "rainbow dream" may be well within our reach. That's what Dr. Vladimir Balakin, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, says in a press interview. Dr. Balakin heads research teams working at the Nuclear Physics Institute (at Protvino near Moscow) and at the Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Physics (at Pushchino near Moscow). Both research centers operate under the auspices of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Years ago biologists came face to face with a phenomenon that still defies explanation: in some cases radiation may do no harm at all and even prove beneficial. True, if the dose is small, of course. A cell exposed to a dose like that can resist larger doses. Such odd things have spurred us to take a closer look, Dr. Balakin says.

- To begin with, we decided to find out how long a cell "remembers" the initial radiation dose-its "inoculation" against further radiation exposure, so to speak. For our experiment we exposed two-month-old (pubescent) mice. For nine months in succession we kept a tab on their radiation resistance which was above normal. More than that, the mice showed enhanced resistance to chemical mutagens, i.e. poisons causing cell destruction.

- As such, the process of ageing is characterized by an increase in the number of defective cells in the organism. Defective according to hereditary material. Our biologists were intrigued: would miniradia-tion work as an "inoculant" against ageing? To find out we made two experiments on two groups of mice. Each group was divided by half at random. The first subgroup was irradiated for 1 min with a small single dose. Then the two subgroups were brought together for periodic checks on the number of defective cells in bone marrow.

Well, the number of such cells in the control (unexposed) subgroup kept growing and fully correlated with numerous data obtained previously in other experiments. The exposed animals showed a different response: initially there was a "plethora" of defective cells which was followed by a drop in their number-excessive cells disappeared within a month and their number finally became the same as in the control mice. It kept level further on and even fell slightly. Toward the end of the experiment the number of defective cells in the mice not exposed to radiation was 50 percent higher than in those who had received a small dose. So it became possible to inhibit the accumulation of age-induced changes in the hereditary material of the cell (Dr. Balakin calls this phenomenon "genome stabilization"). The exposed mice lived five month longer (30 percent) than the control ones. An amazing result indeed! To verify it, Dr. Balakin and his research team took another group of mice, 200 in number.

It is too early yet to make any conclusive recommendations with respect to man and his ageing problems. At this stage it is essential to develop low-cost and accessible methods of control over the condition of bone marrow cells. (*) Optimal radiation doses ought to be determined for man. It might be even better to find proper chemical substitutes that could be on a par with radiation effects. That's what Dr. Balakin and his team are now doing... Be that as it may, our biophysicists have shown a remarkable lot: that a living organism can move into a new state-a sustain-able condition known for much greater stability.

* More on that, in "Bone Marrow Cleansed by Separators", Science in Russia, No. 3, 2000. - Ed.

Nauka v Sibiri (Science in Siberia), 2000


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Prepared by Vladimir GOLDMAN, MAKING LIFE LONGER // Minsk: Belarusian Electronic Library (BIBLIOTEKA.BY). Updated: 11.11.2022. URL: (date of access: 25.04.2024).

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