Botox is not just useful as a cosmetic procedure. The treatment has also been used in mitigating the effects of conditions like Hyperhidrosis, spasmodic dysphonia, migraines, Bell’s Palsy, thyroid eye disease, hypersalivation, and crossed eyes (strabismus). Now scientists are trying to find out if its components have an even wider range of uses. 

In its most basic form, Botox is a neurotoxic protein. This protein is produced by bacterium called Clostridium botulinum, which some refer to as a ‘miracle poison’. When used as Botox, the injected formula blocks nerve signals that make muscles contract so these muscles relax and the unwanted wrinkles disappear. 

Scientists are trying to see if they can get the toxin to target other specific proteins. If they are able to adapt the toxin in that way, they might be able to use it to treat a myriad of conditions and use it to aid in neuroregeneration, regulate growth hormones, calm rampant inflammation and more.  Scientists have been waiting on a breakthrough like this to use protease to treat diseases for decades. The present such as opportunity because unlike antibodies which target specific alien substances, proteases can attach to any protein. They also can not only destroy the protein they attach to but can also reactivate them. 

Harvard Scientists conducted this research into the possible uses and their paper has been published in the journal Science. It is titled “Phage-assisted evolution of botulinum neurotoxin proteases with reprogrammed specificity.”

Travis Blum, PhD, is a postdoctoral researcher in the department of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard Medical School and is the first author on the study. In a release from the university, he says that “in theory, there is a really high ceiling for the number and type of conditions where you could intervene.”

It appears the breakthrough would be most useful in complementing the technology used to edit the genome. In a similar way to how gene-editing technology works, the team’s technology would edit the proteome. When there is an underlying genetic error, as in diseases such as sickle cell anaemia, gene-editing technology can theoretically correct the error and get rid of the symptoms. It is hoped that editing the proteome would work in a similar way. It would be able to treat diseases where there is brain and nerve damage. 

The team’s research proves the possibility, but there is still more work that would need to be done before they can apply the findings to treatments in humans. While they consider the possibilities, the team continues to work on finding the exact limitations so they can eventually make progress.

While we wait for further research and findings for what is bound to be another medical breakthrough, if you are considering getting Botox treatments, remember to consult your doctor first. Also, make sure you ask around to find the best Botox service in your area. Whether the treatment is cosmetic or medical, Botox is just an example of the beauty of science.