A Puzzling Fullerene Study

A research group is claiming that fullerenes (C60, ingested and injected) greatly extend life span in rats; this is meeting with some considerable skepticism, given the degree of life extension and the lack of a plausible mechanism. "In the current study researchers fed the molecule dissolved in olive oil to rats and compared outcomes to a control group of rats who got plain olive oil. The main question they wanted to answer was whether chronic C60 administration had any toxicity, what they discovered actually surprised them. ... Here we show that oral administration of C60 dissolved in olive oil (0.8 mg/ml) at reiterated doses (1.7 mg/kg of body weight) to rats not only does not entail chronic toxicity, but it almost doubles their lifespan. ... The estimated median lifespan (EML) for the C60-treated rats was 42 months while the EMLs for control rats and olive oil-treated rats were 22 and 26 months, respectively. Using a toxicity model the researchers demonstrated that the effect on lifespan seems to be mediated by 'attenuation of age-associated increases in oxidative stress'." So what might be going on here? The average life span of the Wistar rats used is 2-3 years (24 - 36 months). This was a small study size, but that's not so important in determining whether you have an actual means of life extension if you can show that any of your study group lived much longer than usual - but it is important when it comes to the degree of life extension. If the study group is small, as it is here, using only a handful of rats, then the size of the effect can be much more readily distorted by chance. This line in the paper jumped out at me: "Before C60 administration, the rats were fasted overnight but with access to water." If they failed to fast the control group, then we're looking at yet another study that failed to control for calorie restriction, and this is actually largely an intermittent fasting study - which has certainly been shown to extend life in rats.

Link: http://extremelongevity.net/2012/04/16/chronic-buckyball-administration-doubles-rat-lifespan/