People seek out injections of Botox, also known as botulinum neurotoxin serotype A, for a number of reasons, from cosmetic enhancement to migraine treatment.
It is known for providing temporary relief of overactive muscles through its promotion of paralysis both long-term and local. However, recent research shows that the toxin can escape the initial injection area and travel in the central nervous system.
A quick summary about Botox
Botox is derived from the bacteria responsible for botulism. There are different types of Botox specified by the classifications of letters A through G.
Botox has been used in more than 11 million cosmetic procedures since 2002. The toxin is injected into the tissue, and once there, it latches onto nerve endings blocking the muscle-contracting chemical known as acetylcholine.
Botox has been used to treat many medical conditions, as well as for cosmetic purposes. Some of the conditions it has been used for include chronic migraine, crossed eyes, profuse sweating, overactive bladder problems, and other muscle issues. The effects of Botox can last as long as three to ten months depending on the circumstances of the condition being treated.
Known possible side effects of Botox injections include headaches, itching, bruising, and pain.
Hijacking the nervous system
These findings came to light in a collaborative study by scientists from the University of Queensland (UQ) Brain Institute, the UQ Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, the UQ School of Chemical Engineering, Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, and teams from the U.S., France, and the U.K.
“The discovery that some of the injected toxin can travel through our nerves is worrying, considering the extreme potency of the toxin,” said Professor Frederic Meunier, laboratory leader of the UQ Brain Institute.
No side effects have been identified yet
“While no side effects of using Botox medically have been found yet, finding out how this highly active toxin travels to the central nervous system is vital because this pathway is also hijacked by other pathogens such as West Nile or rabies viruses. A detailed understanding of this pathway is likely to lead to new treatments for some of these diseases,” said Meunier.
“For the first time, we’ve been able to visualize single molecules of Botulinum toxin traveling at high speed through our nerves,” said Tong Wang, a postdoctoral research fellow in Meunier’s lab. “We found that some of the active toxins manage to escape this route and intoxicate neighboring cells, so we need to investigate this further and find out how.”
Toxin equals poison
Though there have not been side effects identified with the travel of Botox into the central nervous system, it is still a toxin. Rather than add unnecessary poison to your body, consider alternative methods for anti-aging, as well as for the treatment of migraines.
—The Alternative Daily