At current rates, one in every three of us will develop cancer at some time in our life. While contemporary medicine offers far more hope and hugely improved outcomes for many cancers, the threat and prevalence of this diverse collection of diseases demand that we find more effective and efficient ways of tackling them.
Cancer has more than 200 forms, but a key characteristic of them all is that the disease causes the body’s cells to divide in an abnormal and uncontrolled way, often leading to the development of ‘lumps’ or tumours.
For some time now, scientists have been exploring the potential of C60 fullerenes – known to have powerful antioxidant effects in the living body as well as in laboratory test tubes – as a means to preventing or attacking cancers.
In 2011, Prylutska et al evaluated the impact of C60 fullerene on the growth and spread (or ‘metastasis’) of transplanted tumours in mice. They found that tumour growth was not only inhabited by up to 76.5%, but also that lifespan was increased by 21.8%. The effects, which the team suggested were due to C60’s powerful antioxidant activity which neutralised free radicals in cells and may also have blocked cell receptors, led them to conclude that their C60 therapy was promising for experimental oncology and warranted further research.
Not surprisingly, the quest for more research into C60 as a cancer treatment continues to attract attention and new angles are always being examined. For example, Doxorubicin (’Dox’) is a potent anti-cancer drug but it is also very toxic because it generates high levels of free radicals. Prylutska et al found that combining Dox with C60 did indeed give far better results (eg in terms of lifespan, tumour inhibition and reduced metastasis) than when Dox was used on its own (Prylutska et al, 2014).
Prylutska SV, Burlaka AP, PrylutskyyY, Ritter U & Scharff P, Experimental Oncology (33:3) 2011, Pristine C60 Fullerenes inhibit the rate of tumour groth and metastasis
Prylutska SV, Grynyuk I, Matyshevska O, Prylutskyy Y, Evstigneev M, Scharff P & Ritter U, Drugs in R & D 14(4) 2014, C60 Fullerene as Synergistic Agent in Tumor-Inhibitory Doxorubicin Treatment