Botox is a wrinkle control cream and a potent neurotoxin, used by Hollywood stars to smooth out facial wrinkles. The product is derived form a bacteria, Clostridium botulinum, that causes food poisoning.
It is really surprising to note that this form of neurotoxin is playing an important role in helping understand communication between nerve cells. The research is exploring basic nerve cell function, minute changes that underlie memory and learning, and possible causes of nerve diseases by taking advantage of these highly selective neurotoxins to disturb the function of the basic nerve cell.
The neurotoxin is being increasingly used in human therapy to treat conditions such as strabismus (cross-eyes), voice, head and limb tremor, spasticity, stuttering, involuntary movements such as tics, and for painful rigidity.
Neurotransmitters transmit nerve impulses across chemical synapses, which are regions where one nerve cell makes functional contact with each other. The nerve cells intoxicated by the toxin do not die but rather enable emission of little sprouts, thereby enabling recovery or regeneration of the nerve cell.
An in-depth analysis of such events will pave way for an improved understanding regarding neurological disorders and pathophysiological mechanisms underlying the same.
There is no doubt that understanding this process will lead to novel research to tackle neuronal diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. It could also be important for future treatment of mental conditions such as depression, which is becoming a global health issue.