Dangerous Botulism Toxins To Be Engineered And Put To Medical Use
Edwin Chapman and his colleagues explain that botulinum toxins, the most poisonous substance on Earth which are already used in small doses to treat certain nerve disorders and facial wrinkles, can be put to a wider medical use as it could be re-engineered to help ease rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, psoriasis and other diseases.
Chapman shared that toxins or poisons produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria, a Gram-positive, rod-shaped bacterium, are the most powerful toxins known to science. With small doses, the release of the neurotransmitters that transmit signals from one nerve cell to another can be blocked as it inhibits the chemical messengers to transmit signals from one nerve to another.
These toxins break down a nerve cell protein and can disrupt nerve signals causing pain, muscle spams and other conditions. In addition, this protein which mediates the release of nerotransmitters is present not only in the nerve cells but in the whole human body which makes it capable of a wider medical role.
However, non-nerve cells do not contain receptive ends where botulinum toxins can enter. This put Chapman’s team to expand botulinum toxins’ potential medical use by clipping it with molecules that can attach to receptors on other cells.
Chapman’s laboratory experiments showed that re-engineered botulinum toxins can actually work even on non-nerve cells. They block the release of a protein from inflammation-linked immune cells. This breakthrough and pursuance of expanding the role of botulinum toxins for medical use shows strong potential in helping manage a wide range of chronic inflammatory diseases and other conditions. Such botulinum toxin therapy could have a broader role in medicine.
This study can be found on the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) journal Biochemistry.