In 2012, a group of researchers wanted to measure how toxic carbon 60 fullerene molecules were, and fed it to laboratory rats, dissolved in olive oil.
They dosed 10-month-old rats daily for 7 days, then weekly until the end of the second month, and then monthly until the end of the seventh month, after which all dosage stopped.
To their surprise, instead of causing illness, disease or early death, the rats fed carbon 60 olive oil actually lived longer than the controls, who were fed either olive oil on its own or water.
After three years, all of the water-treated rats were dead, matching up with the typical life-expectancy of a rat of around 2.5 to 3 years.
The olive-oil-only rats lived, on average, 18% longer than the control (water-only) rats, while the C60 olive oil treated rats lived 90% longer on average.
Some of the C60 dosed rats lived for as long as 4.5 years, and anecdotal accounts from the researchers suggest that the last rats were finally put down after 6 years, so that the research could finally be published.
The researchers proposed that the main way that the carbon 60 was having its effect was through the reduction of oxidative stress. In other words, the carbon 60 was somehow acting as a powerful antioxdant and reducing the effects of ageing.
To make sure that their results were valid, the researchers also treated another group of rats with carbon tetracloride (CCl4), which is normally quite toxic to rats.
The control rats showed the usual toxic response, with their symptoms lasting around 24 hours, but the Carbon 60 olive oil treated rats only showed these symptoms for around 5 hours.
They also examined the livers of all of their rat groups and found that the carbon 60 protected the rats’ livers from damage.
So not only did the researchers establish that Carbon 60 was not toxic to mammals, they found that it protected the body – and the liver – from damage, and significantly extended their lifespan.
The researchers also wondered whether longer-term dosing could have produced an even greater lifespan extension in the rats, which would be a fascinating area for further study.
The prolongation of the lifespan of rats by repeated oral administration of fullerene by Tarek Baati et al; Biomaterials, Volume 33, Issue 19, June 2012, Pages 4936-4946
And for more carbon 60 research, visit our growing collection of interesting pieces of research into carbon 60.
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