New Research From Harvard Looks at Botox Safety
Botox is being used to treat everything from headaches to excessive sweating, and Harvard is studying its safety.
With all the new studies out on Botoxâ€”it treats depression!â€”and what it does besides smooth wrinklesâ€”itÂ stops excessive sweating!â€”and sometimes give people a Joker/duck faceâ€”itÂ canÂ treatÂ overactiveÂ bladder!â€”we knew it was only a matter of timeÂ beforeÂ some harsherÂ lightÂ was shed on the toxin.Â BecauseÂ that isÂ whatÂ it isÂ after all, a toxin.Â Botulinum toxins are a food poison and bioterror threat. Just a small amount of the toxin can block signals from nerve cells that control muscles and people die when the toxin paralyzes the muscles they need to breathe.
According to new research fromÂ Harvard Medical School, there are seven major botulinum types. Type A and B are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) forÂ therapeuticÂ and cosmeticÂ uses, but other types are being explored as well. Harvard researchers investigated the effect that all sevenÂ toxinsÂ have on neurons andÂ discoveredÂ that not all are safe.
The study,Â recentlyÂ published in Nature Communications, reports thatÂ two of the seven botulinum toxins, type C and type E, induce degeneration of both cultured rodent neurons and human motor neurons derived from embryonic stem cells. The studies leadÂ authorÂ is quoted:
â€śBotulinum toxins are not expected to cause death of neurons if they just block signals between neurons and muscles, which is the well-established mode of action for this class of toxins,â€ť saidÂ Min Dong, HMS independent instructor in the Department of Microbiology and ImmunobiologyÂ and the Division of Neuroscience at the New England Primate Research Center, and senior author of the paper. â€śIt has been observed since as early as the 1980s that neurons die after exposure to type C toxin. The mechanism remains a mystery, but it raises a red flag as to whether botulinum toxins may affect additional neuronal functions.â€ť
The findings on Botox, or type A, are more complicated, according to the study. Botox attacks but does not induce death of neurons. Clinical data has also demonstrated that Botox is safe for neuron survival in patients.Â But the safety of type A toxin is not absolute, the scientists found. Dong also says that:
â€śBotox is safe in general,â€ť Dong said, â€śbut it can cause the death of neurons when we introduce mutations in SNAP-25 in our experiments. Whether this can occur in rare cases in patients needs to be studied further.â€ť
The bottom line is that Botox is approved by the FDA and one of the cosmetic industries biggest cash cows. Botox sales were $475 million in Allergan’s (the maker of Botox)Â fourth quarter alone. And with new research coming outÂ everydayÂ on Botox treating everything fromÂ chronicÂ migraines to bladderÂ problems, let’s hope that all the new research is good news.
Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/health/blog/2013/03/27/new-research-from-harvard-looks-at-botox-safety/