Botox might be good for your skin but it can damage your brain; Here’s how

Botox is among the most widely used cosmetic procedures across the world. It is a protein made from Botulinum toxin and interestingly, it is the same same toxin that causes botulism, an extremely rare illness caused by poisoning.

Although Botox is a toxin, in small doses, it can have benefits. As a cosmetic treatment, Botox can reduce the appearance of skin wrinkles. It is noteworthy that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved it as a treatment for various health issues, including eyelid spasms, excessive sweating, some bladder disorders, and migraine.

Now a group of scientists has decoded how botox enters the brain cells, leading to paralysis or even death. Professor Frederic Meunier and Dr. Merja Joensuu at UQ’s Queensland Brain Institute conducted a study and discovered how botox enters the neurons.

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“We used super-resolution microscopy to show that a receptor called Synaptotagmin 1 binds to two other previously known clostridial neurotoxin receptors to form a tiny complex that sits on the plasma membrane of neurons. “The toxin hijacks this complex and enters the synaptic vesicles which store neurotransmitters critical to communication between neurons. Botox then interrupts the communication between nerves and muscle cells, causing paralysis,” University of Queensland neurobiologist Professor Frederic Meunier said in a statement.

According to Professor Meunier, earlier it was difficult to track how the neurotoxin worked to relax muscles.

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Meanwhile, this discovery also means that new therapeutic targets can be identified to effectively treat botulism. The findings of the study were published in the EMBO Journal.

“Clostridial neurotoxins are among the most potent protein toxins known to humans. We now have a full picture of how these toxins are internalised to intoxicate neurons at therapeutically relevant concentrations,” Dr. Joensuu stated.