New 'wrinkle' in Botox treatment could lead to lower doses, better safety

There may soon be a better way to fight unsightly wrinkles. Researchers have discovered a novel way to increase the potency of botulinum neurotoxin treatments commonly known as Botox that they say could one day allow patients to receive the injections less frequently while maintaining or even enhancing its cosmetic benefits.

By allowing lower doses, the new approach could also make the treatment safer by reducing the risk of complications associated with immune system recognition that can sometimes occur with frequent injections, according to scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif. Smaller, more potent doses may even lead to lower prices for the popular wrinkle-remover, the researchers say. Their study is published in the March 29 issue of the weekly Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Although popular for removing wrinkles, Botox is also used to treat a growing number of other conditions, including migraine headaches, lazy eyes and excessive sweating. It is developed from the botulinum neurotoxin, the most lethal poison known and a potential bioterrorist weapon. In a medical setting, small doses of a purified version of the toxin block the release of a chemical (acetylcholine) that signals muscle contraction, resulting in a localized, temporary paralysis that erases wrinkles and unwanted muscle spasms.

Kim Janda, Ph.D., a chemistry professor at Scripps and head of the research study, and his associates developed a synthetic molecule that can superactivate the neurotoxin used in Botox by binding to specific sites on the neurotoxin protein. The synthetic molecule works by increasing the activity of an enzyme that cleaves proteins that are critical for neurotransmitter release, thereby increasing the blockage of acetylcholine and enhancing the toxins paralyzing effect. In laboratory studies, the researchers found that this superactivator could boost the activity of the to

Contact: Michael Bernstein
American Chemical Society

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