C(60) fullerene is a naturally occurring molecule containing 60 carbon atoms arranged in a sphere. It is famously known as the buckyball, short for buckminsterfullerene, and discovered in 1985.
Since 1993, the molecule has been suspected to have multiple potential biological benefits. This list includes UV and radioprotection, antiviral, antioxidant, and anti-amyloid activities, allergic response and angiogenesis inhibitions, immune stimulating and antitumour effects, enhancing effect on neurite outgrowth, gene delivery, and even hair-growing activity.
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,” they write “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,” they write.
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”
They also demonstrated that the compound is fully absorbed via the GI tract and totally eliminated from the body in 10 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,” they conclude.