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Thursday, March 07, 2013

Olive Oil, Fullerene, and Lifespan Extension

Buckminsterfullerene, or C60 fullerene. Each
ball is a carbon atom. Red connections are
single bonds. Yellow ones are double bonds.
A bizarre but exciting paper appeared in the Elsevier journal Biomaterials in June 2012. In it, a team of French and Tunisian scientists reported that when olive oil dissolved in the 60-carbon compound known as buckminsterfullerene was administered orally to rats, it nearly doubled the lifespan of the experimental animals compared to controls.

This stunning result made a lot of biogerontology researchers sit up and take notice. It's not every day that you hear of something that can extend life this dramatically. But unfortunately, when you look closer at the research, it shows evidence of sloppiness, if not actual fraud.

Even if you take the results at face value, a certain amount of caution is called for inasmuch as only six rats were used in each experimental group. The statistical significance is there. But still: Six rats?

It wasn't long before readers of the paper noticed some discrepancies. Two photos shown at the top of page 7 (the ones labelled GAog and GAip), showing rat-liver cytology, were actually the same photo, cropped differently. The authors said they put these images in at the last minute and made a mistake.

In September 2012, Biomaterials published an authors' corrigendum (correction) to the earlier paper. Astonishingly, the authors now claimed, instead of the original 66 months reported as maximum lifespan for C60-treated animals, a revised lifespan figure of 54 months. Somehow the authors got the rats' final ages wrong by a year!

Even more astonishing was the authors' explanation for how they got the animals' lifespans wrong by a year. They blamed it on the software they used for drawing their Kaplan-Meier survival graph, saying they were unfamiliar with the software and the software made diagonal lines where it should have made vertical lines, and the lines thus met the x-axis at the wrong values.

This is the kind of nonsensical explanation that casts doubt on the competence (or alternatively, the veracity) of the entire team of researchers. It's peculiar, too, that neither Elsevier's editors nor their peer reviewers noticed the huge discrepancy between the numbers in the Kaplan-Meier graph and the authors' statement in the article that the estimated median lifespans for their three groups of rats were 22, 26, and 42 months (which is not at all what the original graph showed).

The researchers had three groups of animals: a control group that got water, an olive-oil group, and a group that got olive oil mixed with C60 fullerene. In the group that got olive oil (without fullerene) the maximum lifespan was extended a remarkable 20 months (revised downward to 17 months). This is equivalent to the longest life extension ever observed in some of the classic calorie-restriction studies done on rodents (e.g., see graph in this post). And yet it was accomplished without calorie restriction; all that happened was that the rats got olive oil added to their diets. No one else has ever reported lifespan extension of this magnitude due to olive oil alone. If this had been the paper's only result, it would have made headlines.

Interestingly, the revised survival data submitted in the September corrigendum indicates that the C60 rats all died between ages 51 and 54 months. This is an extraordinarily narrow range of lifespans. In the other two groups of rats, lifespans varied by 15 months or more. For all of the C60 rats to die in a 90-day period is suspicious, to say the least.

The work of the French-Tunisian team will, I'm sure, spur a good deal of followup research into the health-promoting properties of C60 fullerenes (with and without olive oil); and we should probably wait for some of this work to come out before judging the French-Tunisian team too harshly. But personally, I find the June 2012 Biomaterials paper to be flat-out unbelievable and untrustworthy. Which is too bad. Because if there's one thing the field of biogerontology doesn't need more of right now, it's untrustworthy research.


  1. niner1:57 AM

    Over at, people have been talking about this since last summer. There are two companies selling c60 in olive oil, and the guys at longecity have figured out how to make their own. (Buy a gram of 99.95% c60 from SES Research, crush the granules, mix with 1.5 liters of any good olive oil, and shake the bottle(s) a couple times a day for a week. When the granules are mostly gone, and the oil is a deep magenta-red, it's ready) I take 30ml of this once a month. This substance has been in several thousand humans by now, about a hundred of whom have posted at longecity in the c60health forum. A number of people have seen shockingly good results in conditions characterized by hypoxia, mitochondrial dysfunction, and chronic inflammation. It also has substantial impact on parameters of athletic interest such as onset of muscle fatigue (delayed) and oxygen utilization (improved). We've also seen some results suggestive of enhanced stem cell differentiation.

    At present, longecity has three animal trials underway. The longest-running is two mice that were started in late middle age. There is another with a half dozen chickens, and we recently started a more serious double blind placebo-controlled trial with 30 rats.

    After extensive discussion, and substantial contact with Fathi Moussa by several longecity members, I'm convinced that there was no fraud nor intent to deceive. The human results that we've seen, along with the known chemical activity of c60 and the biological activity of GV Andrievsky's hydrated fullerenes lead me to the conclusion that the Moussa group's results are real, though the magnitude of the life extension will be in question until there is substantial replication. This will take a number of years.

    One might ask, "how can this possibly be true?" Speaking as a pharmaceutical chemist, I'll tell you what I think. Pristine c60 is known to react with vegetable oils, most likely forming a Diels-Alder adduct with one or more oleic acid moieties. When ingested, the triglyceride will be cleaved by lipases, leaving the putative active agent, a fullerene-fatty acid adduct. C60 is known to localize in mitochondrial membranes, and the fatty acid(s) should help to keep it there. This is directly adjacent to the site of generation of the vast majority of damaging Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). C60 is supremely good at accepting electrons from free radicals, and is known to act as a SOD mimetic, catalyzing the dismutation of superoxide, the most common ROS. I'm already pretty deep in the weeds, but suffice it to say that it appears to make mitochondria work better and it appears to be a fantastic catalytic antioxidant.

    C60-oo is effective in extremely small doses. It also has a very long half life in the membrane. (not very long in plasma) The huge doses given to Moussa's (Baati's) rats over the course of 6 months should have been sufficient to saturate their membranes and provide an effective dose for a long time, perhaps a year or more.

    Considering its effects on both oxidation and chronic inflammation, I have no problem believing that c60 can improve health and extend life. There are reports in the literature that are consistent with this over multiple species. So far, I'm not aware of any harm from the use of c60-oo. People who are young and healthy, but who don't exercise heavily will feel nothing from it, though many report a reduction of sunburn from UV exposure. People with any of a number of health conditions, or those who exercise seriously usually see results, sometimes shockingly good ones.

    Thanks for the great blog, Kas.

  2. Anonymous11:15 AM

    Niner, we purchased C60 in olive oil from Vaughter Welness at, but the color is the same like pure olive oil. I suppose we need different product. May you provide me by your email to enable me to contact you and ask you for suggesion? Please write at Thanks, Sofia

  3. Anonymous8:04 PM

    Update: Looking more carefully at the whole bottle against the sun I can see the redish tint. The color of the oil itself does not have it. It is not possible to see the tint when looking just at the small volume in the pipette. Seems the color of this product is right. So it is not necessary to change the product. Sofia

  4. I also made myself some (I'm a poor man) and it is Much darker red than the stuff I got from Vaughner


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