Via Gizmodo, comes a new study by Tarek Baati et al in which rats were given buckyballs, which doubled their lifespan.
Wait, what?!?! Apparently the researcher set out to test the toxicity of buckyballs, and found an anti-toxicity instead.
Here's the abstract:
Countless studies showed that fullerene (C60) and derivatives could have many potential biomedical applications. However, while several independent research groups showed that C60 has no acute or sub-acute toxicity in various experimental models, more than 25 years after its discovery the in vivo fate and the chronic effects of this fullerene remain unknown. If the potential of C60 and derivatives in the biomedical field have to be fulfilled these issues must be addressed. 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 effects of C60-olive oil solutions in an experimental model of CCl4 intoxication in rat strongly suggest that the effect on lifespan is mainly due to the attenuation of age-associated increases in oxidative stress. Pharmacokinetic studies show that dissolved C60 is absorbed by the gastro-intestinal tract and eliminated in a few tens of hours. These results of importance in the fields of medicine and toxicology should open the way for the many possible -and waited for- biomedical applications of C60 including cancer therapy, neurodegenerative disorders, and ageing.And the results summed up in Gizmodo:
The results, which appear in Biomaterials, took the researchers by surprise. The control group had a median lifespan of 22 months, and the olive oil group one of 26 months. But the Bucky ball group? They stuck it out for 42 months. That's almost double the control group.
Double lifespan. Sounds too good to be true, which means it probably is, but what if it's not?
What could possibly be the mechanism here that would double a rat's lifespan? The paper suggests it is "attenuation of age-associated increases in oxidative stress", so the old anti-oxidants and disease and aging hypothesis.
However, there's been a lot of backlash against anti-oxidants lately. Once touted as the wonder solution, they been shown to actually have negative effects, especially when take in isolation like beta-carotene was shown to do in regard to lung cancer in the CARET and ATBC studies.
The Tarek Baati et al study also used carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), as a stressor and compared the effects with or without buckyballs. CCl4 causes liver damage (among other things) in higher doses, and the rats that had been pretreated with buckyballs for a week showed significantly less liver damage than the other groups.
So perhaps buckyballs act as some sort of universal anti-oxidants. Another possible explanation could be a reduction in inflammation. I don't have access to the full paper, but I noticed this:
The arrows indicate C60 crystals-containing macrophages with specific brown colour. Transmission electron microscopy: compared to (e) spleen macrophages, TEM micrographs show only a few C60 crystals inside (f) lung and (g) kidney macrophages.Chronic inflammation (possibly caused by chronic infection) is another hypothesized cause of aging and diseases of civilization. Could buckyballs be regulating M1 (inflammatory) macrophages somehow? I'm just speculating here.
Anyway, who wants to live forever?