While the Fountain of Youth remains elusive, men and women are choosing science to help them turn back time or at least delay the signs of aging. One of these is Botox.
Botox is a product that, when injected, leads to temporary paralysis or relaxation of the muscles, reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and crow's feet. It has also been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis), chronic migraine, uncontrolled blinking, and muscle spasms.
However, there's been a lot of controversy surrounding Botox for one simple reason: it is made from a neurotoxin.
Botox is a play of the term Clostridium botolinum, a bacterium that produces a very potent toxin called botulinum whether it is in its most natural or synthetic form. A person who's been poisoned with the toxin can suffer from droopy eyelids, blurred vision, difficulty in swallowing, slurred speech, nausea and vomiting, difficulty in breathing, and eventually paralysis.
To determine how the potency of the toxin can affect the body, especially the central nervous system, a team of researchers from Brain Institute Laboratory of University of Queensland led by Professor Frederic Meunier tries to visualize the movements of the toxin's molecules.
During their study, they discovered that the molecules can indeed penetrate and travel to the central nervous system, which means the toxin has the capability to reach the brain. However, since there are no reported cases of morbidity from Botox, it signifies that the treatment is generally safe and doesn't cause any brain damage.
But they also want to stress that the toxin can go to a cellular dump yet doesn't disintegrate. It can also intoxicate the cells nearby.
The scientists are now looking into trying to gain a much deeper understanding on how Botox affects the central nervous system. Moreover, since the pathway of the toxin is also used by other harmful micoorganisms such as rabies and West Nile virus, learning more about the toxin's journey may help them find the cure for such viruses.