Neuromodulators aren’t exactly “new” to the market. When the FDA approved Botox Cosmetic in 2002, it did so after a lot of testing, and with the understanding (among other things) that muscle-freezing toxin would stay in one place and not move.
Now, researchers at the University of Wisconsin Madison are saying that thinking might not be totally accurate and that neurotoxins could potentially migrate once injected.
In their study, published in Cell Reports, mouse neurons in wells connected by tiny channels were examined. In tests of two botulinum toxins, the researchers saw toxin molecules entering the injected cell—as expected—but it also showed that the toxins were moving to nerve cells in wells that had not initially received the molecules.
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Obviously, a scary thought, but is it really a threat when it comes to how humans are using it?
“This study is not referenced that well,” explains Los Gatos, CA, dermatologist Steven L. Swengel, MD. “It apparently was looking at the effect on single nerve cells, and not the muscle sites [which is how Botox is used—it blocks a receptor] and these cells were in tissue cultures, a living study in a test tube, not in an animal.”
“The researchers are saying mouse nerve cells in tissue cultures [show] some transfer of botulinum toxin between neurons, but what will it do when we go in vivo—i.e. test in life tissue and in humans?” Dr. Swengel asks. “Dosing for cosmetic relaxation of muscles is super small and focused on specific facial muscles. Another study to get all excited about, but what does this mean in the end? Not much.”
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