Scientists have discovered that some of the potent toxin in Botox can escape and travel into the central nervous system.
Botox—also known as Botulinum neurotoxin serotype A—is best known for its ability to smooth wrinkles.
Derived from naturally occurring sources in the environment, Botox has also been extremely useful for the treatment of over-active muscles and spasticity as it promotes local and long-term paralysis.
Safe to use
“The discovery that some of the injected toxin can travel through our nerves is worrying, considering the extreme potency of the toxin,” says Professor Frederic Meunier, laboratory leader of the Queensland Brain Institute at University of Queensland.
“However, to this day no unwanted effect attributed to such transport has been reported, suggesting that Botox is safe to use.”
“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.”
Most of the toxin is transported to a cellular dump, where it should degrade after reaching the central nervous system, says Tong Wang, a postdoctoral research fellow in Meunier’s lab.
“For the first time, we’ve been able to visualize single molecules of Botulinum toxin traveling at high speed through our nerves,” Wang says.
“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.”
The findings appear in the Journal of Neuroscience.
Source: University of Queensland