Carnosine is a biologically active dipeptide (simple protein) discovered by Russian scientists. The history of discovery of carnosine refers back to the early XXth century, particularly, to the experiments of V. S. Gulevich, a well-known Russian biochemist. In his studies of nitrogen contents in samples of minced meat, Gulevich noticed that the total content of organic nitrogen is significantly greater than the sum of protein nitrogen and nitrogen of all extracted components of muscular tissue known at that time. He suggested that there are unidentified nitrogen-containing compounds in muscular tissue. Later, he managed to isolate these compounds from muscle extract. Because this substance was isolated from minced meat, it was given the name “carnosine” (from Latin term caro, carnis – meat).
A variety of biological effects of carnosine have been demonstrated in patients by Russian physiologists and physicians before World War II. Russian researchers not only discovered carnosine but also used it in clinical practice the first medicinal form based on this dipeptide. Although the first medicinal form of carnosine has been introduced into clinical practice in the Soviet Union quite long ago, it is difficult to find out who exactly was first. This form was developed at the Institute of physiotherapy (Kharkov-city), and it was clinically tested in the 1930’s at the Biochemical Laboratory of this Institute (The Head, P.R. Normark). These studies demonstrated high therapeutic efficiency of carnosine in the treatment of infection and rheumatic poly arthritis (Фролов и др., 1935; Нормарк и др., 1940), peptic ulcer (Фролов и др., 1936), and essential hypertension (Роднянский, 1941). Unfortunately, these studies have been suspended because of World War II. At that time researches were conducted under supervision of Russian Government and Russian Military in the field of application of cosmic medicine in practice, and they worked mainly on prevention and strengthening of adaptation mechanisms to stress. Many data obtained from those researches are still unavailable and locked somewhere as State Secret. This scientific treasure has been hidden for years due to Russian containment of the country.
Fortunately, carnosine today is being more and more recognized worldwide, including western countries. Many research regarding biological functions of carnosine are currently made in Japan, Australia, USA and UK. The scientific significance of this extraordinary, absolutely non-toxic substance increased a few years ago – especially after the Australian and British discoveries regarding the effect of carnosine on the aging processes. Dr. Michael Chez and his team from America published a scientific paper on the amazing progress concerning children with autism after administration of carnosine. More than 2000 scientific debates related to carnosine are located in Medline database.
Russian knowledge accompanied with western researches nowadays brought carnosine to the point where it has been defined as a completely natural product with the greatest potential and wide range of therapeutic usage.
Carnosine was the first and most simple example of a biologically active peptide, which is followed by a long list of natural protein metabolism regulators. The decades were dedicated to the study of its structure, distribution and characteristics. It was found that carnosine is directly connected with the function of the triggering tissues, such as muscles and the brain.
Russian scientist S. E. Severin demonstrated in 1953 that carnosine regulates pH value (acting as a buffer), by buffering lactic acid caused by work of the muscles, as well as that the supply of carnosine increases muscle contractility and their resistance to fatigue. Working muscles accumulate lactic acid as a by-product, the pH value is lowered (acidity increases) and it is a major cause of muscle fatigue. With the application of carnosine, the muscles recover almost instantly and continue to work as if they were never exhausted. This process of the rapid recovery of muscle aid by carnosine is known as the so-called “Severin’s phenomenon.”