Claimed to be the most remote inhabited island in the world, Easter Island lies 3,510 kilometres off the coast of Chile, far out in the middle of the world’s largest ocean.
Renown for its giant, arcane statues, which once served as a conduit between the living and the dead, Easter Island continues to mystify scientists and historians well into modern times.
For during the 1970s, in a worldwide hunt for new antibiotics, scientists discovered a chemical in the soil of the island produced by a resident microorganism.
Leading a team from the University of Texas, Dr Arlan Richardson managed to develop the chemical into a drug know as rapamycin, which increased life expectancy in animals by a startling 38%.
However, the drug has been considered too dangerous for use on humans, as it works by suppressing the immune system, leaving patients susceptible to viruses and bacteria. Until now, the only way scientists have been able to extend life in mammals is by trifling with their genes or restricting their diet.
That was until a team of US scientists recently experimented on the skin cells of children suffering from Hutchinson Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS), a genetic anomaly where babies rapidly age and die at approximately 12 years of age.
According to The Times of India, these scientist were able to cure the children through the use of rapamycin. Although still in trials, it is believed the drug, courtesy of a mysterious Easter Island microbe, may now be used to extend the human lifespan by more than a decade.
Fast surpassing the legend of the Fountain of Youth as ‘the soil of longevity’, rapamycin is becoming known amongst the scientific community as the ‘forever young drug’. Not all, however, are greeting the discovery with such enthusiasm.
An alleged descendant from Easter Island, Rapanui Tikinkii, says while the soil has long been known to extend life, it also carries with it the memories of the dead. He says all who carry it in their blood will hear the screams of cannibal victims, and feel the fear of those who perished during the island’s revered ‘Bird Man Cult’, for as long as they walk the Earth.