Scientists have developed a modified form of Botox that can provide long-term pain relief for patients with persistent nerve damage.
Botox is a brand name for muscle relaxants that are injected into the face in small doses to get rid of wrinkles. It is a protein derived from botulinum toxin, which is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum (C. botulinum).
While small doses of botulinum toxin are generally safe, taking large amounts of this protein is dangerous and can temporarily paralyze muscles.
Scientists in the United Kingdom and the United States have developed modified Botox to relieve pain without causing paralysis or harmful side effects.
The effect of modified Botox, like its cosmetic use, can last up to five months, although it has not yet been tested in humans.
The team said their work, published in the journal Life Science Alliance, could help those who struggle with chronic pain, as currently available drugs are limited by serious side effects.
And drugs like morphine and fentanyl can only be used for short-term pain relief due to the risk of addiction, abuse, and overdose associated with long-term use.
Dr Maria Mayaro of the University of Reading said: “People with chronic pain need new ways to manage their symptoms. They need safer and more effective drugs. These new botulinum molecules are effective in reducing pain behavior in models of human pain.” We believe this approach could pave the way for the development of pain therapy to improve the quality of life of the millions of people who suffer from chronic pain.”
Scientists from the Universities of Sheffield and Reading, University College London (UCL) and the American biopharmaceutical company Neuresta have developed a new way to reconstruct Botox using elements of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum.
The team said they broke the Botox into two separate pieces and reconstructed the “long” version.
When tested on mice, the team found that this modified Botox was non-toxic and did not cause paralysis.
Professor Pazbek Davletov, from the School of Biosciences at the University of Sheffield, said: “Currently, pain medications can only temporarily relieve chronic pain and often have unwanted side effects. this needs to be verified.”
“We hope that the drug developed can improve the quality of life of millions of people around the world suffering from chronic pain,” he added.
The results of the study led to a transfer of the technology to Neuresta, an American biopharmaceutical startup that is now adapting nerve blockers for a variety of neurological conditions using the technology.
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