The new treatment has not yet been tested in humans or animals, the researchers say. If further studies prove successful, the technique could be available to consumers in four to six years, the researchers estimate.
"We have developed a synthetic molecule that binds to the toxin and increases its normal function," Janda says. "The discovery of small molecule activators may ultimately provide a valuable method for minimizing dosage, reducing resistance, and increasing its clinical efficacy."
One possible complication of Botox injections is that their repeated use can lead to recognition by the immune system, especially when patients are given frequent, high doses of the toxin. Higher doses can also increase the risk of adverse complications, which can include pain in the face, redness at the injection site and muscle weakness. The new superactivator formula could allow lower doses to be administered roughly one-tenth the normal dose while reducing the possibility of unwanted immune complications, Janda and his associates say. Botox injections should always be performed by a qualified doctor, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.