Any high school science student could probably tell you what Buckminsterfullerine is: A molecule made up of sixty carbon atoms, bonded together in a spherical shape. The naturally occurring substance is a scientific curiosity, with potential applications ranging from cancer treatment to creating body armor. But could a teaspoon or two a day allow us to live to 150 years of age? New research into the organic compound suggests that it indeed might be a real weapon in the war against aging.
In a clinical trial, scientists at Université Paris Sud in France fed three groups of rats different substances. The first group was a control, the second was fed olive oil, and the third was given a mixture of olive oil and Buckminsterfullerine. The control group had a lifespan of only 22 months, and the olive oil group lived a median of 26 months. But the group that was fed the mixture? The results were quite surprising to researchers, who were performing the test to determine the toxicity of Buckminsterfullerine — rats in group three lived an astonishing 42 months.
According to the research published in the April 10 edition of Biomaterials, Buckminsterfullerine — affectionately nicknamed buckyballs — works by reducing the oxidative stress that causes aging. Granted, the research only applies to rats thus far, and this is only one study into the compound, but the results are still quite promising. It may be a good 500 years too late for Ponce de León, but it seems like humanity may have finally discovered the fountain of youth. Or, at the very least, lab rats have.
[Image credit: alphasix]
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