A modified form of botulinum toxin – a cosmetic procedure popular with A-list celebrities – may soon be used to provide long-term pain relief for people with nerve damage, scientists say.
About seven in 100 people U.K. They suffer from chronic nerve pain, experts estimate, but current treatments are limited due to dangerous side effects.
Scientists say they may have found a solution by modifying the proteins used in botulinum toxin.
Botox is the brand name for a muscle relaxant that is injected into the face in small doses to smooth fine lines and wrinkles.
A-list celebrities, including kim kardashian, Nicole Kidman and gwyneth paltrowBoth talked about using it – though not always in an effusive way.
The relaxant used in the injection is a protein made from botulinum toxin, which is produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum.
However, Botox can be dangerous when used in high doses and can temporarily paralyze muscles.
British researchers and U.S. Say they have engineered Botox to relieve pain without causing paralysis or unwanted side effects.
They believe it can help relieve those with difficult-to-manage chronic pain.
The research, which has not yet been tested in humans, was published in the journal Life Sciences Alliance.
Dr Maria Maiaru, from the University of Reading, who was one of the researchers on the study, said: “These new botulinum molecules were effective in reducing pain-like behavior in human pain models.
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“We believe this approach could open the way for the development of pain treatments to improve the quality of life for millions of people with chronic pain.”
Medications currently used to relieve pain from nerve damage include morphine and fentanyl.
But they should only be used for short-term pain relief due to the risks of addiction, abuse, and overdose associated with long-term use.
However, the researchers behind the modified Botox said the protein was found to be non-toxic and did not cause paralysis when tested on mice.
According to the researchers, the treatment may be effective for up to five months.
Professor Bazbek Davletov, from the University of Sheffield’s School of Biological Sciences, who led the research, said: “A single injection of a new non-paralytic blocker at a painful site could potentially reduce pain in humans for months and now needs to be tested.
“We hope this engineered drug will improve the quality of life for the millions of people around the world who suffer from chronic pain.”
The research, funded by the UK’s Medical Research Council (MRC), was carried out by scientists from the Universities of Sheffield and Reading, University College London (UCL), and US biopharmaceutical start-up Neuresta.
Neuresta is now working on using the technology to tailor nerve blockers for different neurological diseases.