Can fullerene maintain good health and prolong lifespan?
Fatalists aside, who doesn’t want to live longer and in good health? But, obviously, to live longer it would be nonsense to put our health at risk. Yet, since we published a paper in 2012 on prolonging the lifespan of rats by repeated administration of  fullerene (C60), myriad websites have started selling this product online as a dietary supplement without any certified toxicity test!
Since the early nineties countless publications have reported promising medicinal applications for C60 mostly related to its unparalleled affinity towards free radicals. However, until now no officially approved C60-based drug has reached the market, notably because of the alleged dangers of C60 nanoparticles.From our experience in the field of biomedical applications of fullerenes, we know that pure C60 has neither acute nor chronic toxicity. Nevertheless, we also know that under certain conditions, linked to the presence of impurities into C60 aggregates or to defective adjuvants or to light exposure, certain preparations based on this product, can be highly toxic. Hence, it is important above all to avoid using C60 in solid form, i.e. in the form of aggregates or nanoparticles. Especially since, we should remember, C60 is active only in soluble form. Overall, it is mandatory to verify the innocuousness of any C60-containing preparation proposed for human consumption.
Is C60 active in all species regardless of age?
Recently, two studies found no beneficial effect of C60 administration on aging in mice. The authors therefore questioned the generalizability of the efficacy data across different species and age ranges. Meanwhile, many consumers testify online about the benefits of C60 on their health. But, of course, these testimonies, whether solicited or not by the sellers, cannot be acceptedf only for the omission of the placebo effect.
While pharmacokinetics data are missing in both studies in mice – i.e. we do not know if the administered ingredient is well absorbed and if so to what extent? -, their results clearly remind us, if needed, that clinical trials are unavoidable before proposing any C60 preparation for human consumption.
Towards Regulatory Considerations
In order to perform successful clinical trials, the purity of an active pharmaceutical ingredient is a crucial prerequisite. This should also apply to C60, even though it is only sold as a dietary supplement.
In order to build a quality-testing strategy for regulatory considerations, we have recently evaluated several analytical tools to verify the purity of commercially available C60 samples. Our data clearly show that differential scanning calorimetry is the best choice to establish a purity criterion based on the sc-fcc transition of a C60 sample (Tonset ≥ 258 K, Dsc-fccH ≥ 8 J/g). Nevertheless, even the visual aspect of a C60 sample can already provide clues as to its quality.
Highly pure C60 samples are crystalline and exhibit a black metallic appearance (Fig. 1a), whilst less pure C60 samples are less crystalline, and possess a brownish color (Fig. 1b, and c). Furthermore, oily solutions of C60 are clear and have a purplish orange rose color, the intensity of which depends on the concentration (Fig. 1). This color results from mixing the yellow color of the oil and the violet color of C60 in solution. Any cloudy or differently colored solution should be discarded.
As there are neither regulatory recommendations on this subject nor a purity criterion for C60 samples until now, C60 consumption could cause a public health issue. This would be doubly damaging. First of all, for consumers’ health of course, but also this could permanently compromise a product which is so promising for human health.
Institut de Chimie Physique, CNRS – UMR 8000, Université Paris – Saclay, France
Fullerene for Medicinal Purposes, A Purity Criterion towards Regulatory Considerations
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Materials (Basel). 2019 Aug 12
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C 60 in olive oil causes light-dependent toxicity and does not extend lifespan in mice
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Geroscience. 2021 Apr
Effect of Long-Term Treatment with C 60 Fullerenes on the Lifespan and Health Status of CBA/Ca Mice
Dmytro Shytikov, Iryna Shytikova, Deepak Rohila, Anton Kulaga, Tatiana Dubiley, Iryna Pishel
Rejuvenation Res. 2021 Oct