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How was Botox Discovered?

Botox is a drug that has been used by doctors for many years to treat wrinkles and facial creases. Botox is a brand name for a toxin made by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. There are other brands available in the market such as Dysport and Xeomin. However, Botox is the most commonly used term because it was the first injectable botulinum toxin. But how did they discover the bacteria in the first place?

During World War II, the United States attempted to weaponize C. botulinum. Chinese prostitutes would be given capsules that would allow them to kill Japanese officers who hired them. This research resulted in the development of Botox.

What is Botulinum Toxin and How does it Work?

Botulinum toxin, also known as Botox, is a neurotoxic protein produced by Clostridium botulinum and related bacteria. By blocking the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine from axon terminals at the neuromuscular junction, it produces flaccid paralysis. Botulism, on the other hand, is a toxin-induced sickness. The toxin is used for medical and aesthetic purposes in the commercial world.

Botulinum toxins are the most powerful poisons ever discovered. Intoxication can occur naturally as a result of a wound or intestinal infection, or as a result of consuming a toxin that has been created in food. The lethal dose of type A toxin in humans is estimated to be 1.3–2.1 ng/kg intravenously or intramuscularly, 10–13 ng/kg inhaled, or 1000 ng/kg eaten by mouth. (Source: National Library of Medicine)

What are the Different Types of Botulinum Toxins?

The Botulinum toxin has several types. They are classified into seven major types of toxins and are labeled from A to G. Newer types are discovered regularly. Human sickness can be caused by Types A and B, which are utilized economically and medically. Whereas, Types C to G are less common; types E and F can cause disease in humans. But the other types cause disease in other animals. Botulinum toxin types A and B are used in the treatment of muscle spasms. (Source: World Health Organization)

Is it Possible to Turn this Toxin into a Poison, and What Symptoms Might You Experience?

Botulism bacteria can produce a poison that is extremely potent and lethal. The poison is also simple to manufacture and transport. People who develop botulism, on the other hand, require long-term, intensive care. A large botulism outbreak would cause significant disruption to normal activity.

Botulism symptoms are the same regardless of how people contract it. Double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, and muscle weakness are some of the symptoms. Botulism causes infants to become lethargic, feed poorly, become constipated, and have a weak cry and poor muscle tone. These are all symptoms of the poison’s muscle paralysis. Without treatment, people with botulism may develop paralysis of the arms, legs, trunk, and breathing muscles.
Botulism symptoms usually appear within 18 to 36 hours of being exposed to contaminated food. They can, however, begin as soon as six hours later or as late as ten days later. (Source: Minnesota Department of Health)

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