The years of work that went into investigating the effects of fullerenes (spherical assemblies of carbon molecules, specifically C60 in this case) on life span in rodents are an example of the waste that can occur following the publication of a badly designed study that produces misleading data. The original 2012 study that led to the claim that supplementation with fullerenes dissolved in olive oil increases rat life span was carried out using only a small number of animals and was published in a journal that did not specialize in aging research. This is perhaps because the size of the life span extension claimed was large enough that it would be have been rejected by reviewers familiar with past results. It is too large to be taken at face value without resulting from a much larger and more rigorous study.
Later work showed that fullerenes in oil are in fact quite toxic unless very carefully manufactured, a hurdle requiring some years to pass, and not accounted for at all in the original paper. When tested robustly, using non-toxic formulations, fullerenes in olive oil were found to fail to extend rodent life span. The original study did not control for calorie intake, and so may have been reporting a disguised calorie restriction effect, or simply the result of an artifact of poor study design and execution.
We might then look at today's paper by a different group, in which the authors suggest that the problem is that olive oil on its own is quite harmful to rodent life span, while putting fullerenes into the olive oil counteracts some of these effects. The mechanisms of interest here revolve around oxidation of the lipid molecules in oils, as oxidized and otherwise altered lipids are harmful to cells, versus the sizable antioxidant capacities of fullerenes. At this point there is still at least one next step to conduct, which is to run life span studies based on delivery of water-soluble fullerenes without involving olive oil. This sort of approach has been tested in a preliminary way by a few groups for their ability to assist in control of localized inflammation, but not extensively.
Given the poor performance of systemic antioxidants to date in extending life in animal models, versus benefits for some types of antioxidant shown in inflammatory conditions, I wouldn't expect much to result from this work. The only antioxidant compounds that have produced increased life span are those that specifically target the mitochondria (such as MitoQ, SkQ1, and so forth), and even there the gains in life span in short-lived species are modest at best. These compounds have so far found their greatest success in localized treatment of inflammatory conditions, such as those of the eye.
Several studies claimed C60 fullerenes as a prospective geroprotector drug due to their ability to capture free radicals effectively and caused a profound interest in C60 in life extension communities. Multiple additives are already sold for human consumption despite a small body of evidence supporting the beneficial effects of fullerenes on the lifespan. In order to test the effect of C60 fullerenes on lifespan and healthspan, we administered C60 fullerenes dissolved in virgin olive oil orally to 10-12 months old CBA/Ca mice of both genders for seven months and assessed their survival.
To uncover C60 and virgin olive effects, we established two control groups: mice treated with virgin olive oil and mice treated with drinking water. To measure healthspan, we conducted daily monitoring of health condition and lethality and monthly bodyweight measurements. We also assessed physical activity, glucose metabolism, and hematological parameters every three months.
We did not observe health deterioration in the animals treated with C60 compared with the control groups. Treatment of mice with C60 fullerenes resulted in an increased lifespan of males and females compared with the olive oil-treated animals. The lifespan of C60-treated mice was similar to the mice treated with water. These results suggest that the lifespan-extending effect in C60-treated mice appears due to the protective effect of fullerenes in opposition to the negative effect of olive oil in CBA/Ca mice.