Botox users please take note! The potent toxin used for revamping our look and personality is transported via our nerves back to the central nervous system, say researchers from the University of Queensland.
Botox - best known for its ability to smooth wrinkles - has been extremely useful for the treatment of over-active muscles and spasticity which promotes local and long-term paralysis.
"The discovery that some of the injected toxin can travel through our nerves is worrying, considering the extreme potency of the toxin," warned Professor Frederic Meunier from the University of Queensland's brain institute laboratory.
While no side-effects of using Botox medically have been found yet, finding out how this highly active toxin travels to the central nervous system is vital because this pathway is also hijacked by other pathogens such as West Nile or rabies viruses, he explained.
Tong Wang, post-doctoral research fellow in professor Meunier's lab, discovered that most of the toxin is transported to a cellular dump where it is meant to be degraded upon reaching the central nervous system.
"For the first time, we have been able to visualize single molecules of Botox toxin travelling at high speed through our nerves," Wang noted. "We found that some of the active toxins manage to escape this route and intoxicate neighboring cells so we need to investigate this further and find out how," he pointed out.
Also known as Botulinum neurotoxin serotype A, Botox is derived from naturally-occurring sources in the environment.
A detailed understanding of this pathway is likely to lead to new treatments for some of these diseases, the authors noted.
The study was a collaboration between scientists at the Queensland Brain Institute and teams from the US, France and Britain.
The research was published in the Journal of Neuroscience