Carbon buckyballs, C60, have been a topic of interest to the longevity advocacy community since a study a few years ago claimed significant life extension in rats. I remain very skeptical: it was a small number of animals, carried out by people outside the aging research community, published in a journal that doesn't normally cover this topic, and the claimed effect was double that achieved by the mainstream community via other methods in rats. It just doesn't pass muster. Nonetheless, people are interested, and crowdfunded attempts to replicate the result are ongoing.
There is better, albeit still thin, support for C60 to be a beneficial adjuvant treatment or delivery method for chemotherapy in cancer therapies. Ichor Therapeutics has been looking to raise funds for some of their early stage work on this topic of late. The Methuselah Foundation stepped in to fund this research earlier in the year, and here is an update on this topic. This will no doubt be of interest to those who consider it worthwhile following up on claims of life extension via C60 in normal mice:
Ichor Therapeutics, Inc., is a pre-clinical biotechnology company that develops technologies to target age-related pathology. The company received $79,775 in grant funding from Methuselah Foundation in July, 2015, to develop a C60-based therapy for acute myeloid leukemia (AML). AML is a lethal blood cancer with only a 24% five-year survival rate. Ichor reports that short-term biodistribution studies have been completed, and long-term studies are ongoing. These studies track the accumulation and reduction of C60 in the blood and various organs over time, and are essential for establishing a safety profile during pre-clinical studies. The company has also initiated a large scale repeat of its pilot efficacy study, which led to a doubling of median lifespan in a mouse model of AML.
"We are eagerly awaiting the results of our efficacy study. Our current data supports the hypothesis that C60 may be a safe and effective therapeutic candidate for several age-related diseases, including cancer. Quality assurance is a critically important part of manufacturing, yet is often ignored in the context of research grade products. Methuselah Foundation supported early development of quality assurance measures in preparation for our studies. We were surprised to discover that when we evaluated multiple sources of C60, there were large disparities between what is reported by vendors, and what is actually contained within their products." While a promising therapeutic compound, C60 is not approved for use as a drug or supplement. Its manufacturing is currently unregulated.
"Methuselah and Ichor will be exploring appropriate solutions to the problem of unreliable formulations. Ichor is actively adopting cGLP and cGMP standards. Once in place, we can begin FDA compliant manufacturing and pre-clinical safety and toxicity testing. We think C60 could have immense potential to treat disease, but it is important to take a measured approach as we move towards the clinic. Any new compound should be rigorously investigated before human use, especially for safety." The company expects its studies to conclude by March, 2016, and intends to publish the results in an open access peer-reviewed journal.