The Development of Botulinum Toxins

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Continuing on from our last article imagine all the people that will eventually be helped with the development of the botulinum toxins (originally known as Oculinum) –  People with many of the Dystonia’s, people with Spasticity, people with Hyperhydrosis (extreme sweating)
and, now, people with migraine headaches.  In addition, it has been experimented with other disorders as well, although not much progress has been made so far.

And much of the credit should go to Edward Schantz, Ph. D, of the University of Wisconsin.  As noted in the preceding article Dr Schantz developed Oculinum (now known as Botox) but, beyond that, other toxins have come around in their own forms such as Myobloc, Dysport, Xeomin and possibly, as mentioned, Puretox. It’s predicted that it will eventually be useful in treating many other disorders/diseases especially where the chemical in our brains/bodies called acetylcholine comes into play.

He met Dr Schantz when he was in his eighties and was in Madison and still going strong.  You would think his laboratory would have been a huge one with all the bells and whistles but it was not.  In fact, it was very much on the small size at that time.  Walking into Dr Schantz’ office was an experience of its own.  It was cramped with only a desk and 2 chairs and an old time refrigerator, the kind that was rounded at the top.  Inside the refrigerator was not much – a paper bag with lunch and then 2 smaller mason jars with liquefied Oculinum and, please remember, this Oculinum was the world’s most potent poison and here it was, just sitting on a shelf in a little old refrigerator without a lock on its door. In fact, at the outbreak of the first Iraqi war it was said that Iraq had warheads containing Botulinum toxin in them.  Interesting is the fact that Dr Schantz, upon graduating from college was drafted and sent to Fort Detrick in Maryland to work with the bacteria called Clostridium Botulinum.  His duty was to study it for its possible use in bacteriological warfare, not for treatments of illnesses.  Isn’t it strange that the world’s most potent poison (10,000 times more potent than the venom of a rattlesnake) would be used to treat all of us for spasmodic torticollis?  And, aside from illnesses, let’s not forget Wrinkle Removing.  When the rights for the use and manufacture of Oculinum were sold to Allergan Pharmaceutical they changed its name to Botox and also, a few years later, found out that it could be used for wrinkle removing.  This was something not known to them at the time of buying the rights.  It literally fell in their hands as if from a tree.

Stay tuned for more “Now You Know”…

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