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Botox Ends Up in Our Central Nervous System

Botox, widely used in cosmetic surgery, may be escaping deep into the body’s central nervous system.

According to researchers from the University of Queensland, Australia, Botox – also known as Botulinum neurotoxin serotype A – is transported via our nerves back to the central nervous system.

Botox is used to smooth wrinkles because it promotes local and long-term paralysis of muscles, according to a university news release.

UQ Queensland Brain Institute laboratory leader Professor Frederic Meunier said that “the discovery that some of the injected toxin can travel through our nerves is worrying, considering the extreme potency of the toxin.”

“However, to this day no unwanted effect attributed to such transport has been reported, suggesting that Botox is safe to use,” he said.

“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.”

Dr. Tong Wang, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Meunier’s laboratory, said that “for the first time, we’ve been able to visualize single molecules of Botulinum toxin travelling at high speed through our nerves. 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.”


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