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May 8, 2012
Buckyball Longevity: The Lead Author Replies
I've received a reply from Dr. Fathi Moussa at Université Paris-Sud, lead author of the C60 longevity paper that I blogged about here, which turned out to have a duplicated figure. With permission, here are the main points of the e-mail:
Of course, you are right: in the published figure 4 the GAog and GAip panels are identical. These two panels were meant to represent the well-known effect of intra-peritoneally (i.p.) administered CCl4 on rat livers. The mistake was obviously due to the fact that the pretreatment of control animals with water either orally (GAog) or i.p. (GAip) cannot influence the effects of CCl4 on livers. Therefore the effects on liver are identical and the corresponding figures are expected to be closely alike. Anyway we sent to the Editor an erratum that will be published soon.
We are very grateful to you for warning us about this figure. We are very furious against ourselves. We still do not understand how such error could have escaped our notice during the revision process. While this mistake has not any influence on the validity of the results described in the text, this could raise a certain amount of doubt over the work. The extension of the lifespan of rats is real and we fear that our error could delay or even prevent control experiments we are expecting to be made by others.
We have published on C60 toxicity since 1995 and all our results have been confirmed by several independent teams. . .
That point in the second paragraph is an important one: if these results are real, they're quite important and interesting. But, as with any other scientific result, they won't be accepted as real until they've been replicated, and replicating this experiment is already a substantial undertaking. The mistake with the figures doesn't help to get these started. (I should note that I've also called the authors' attention to the other points raised here in the comments).
My hope is that other groups studying longevity effects in rodents (and having already made the commitment that entails) will be able to add a C60 arm to their experiments as a comparison.
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