Botox as a treatment for chronic pain

Rejoice! Fantastic news for Botox, friends. This amazing molecule now can not only be used to enhance your clients’ appearance, it can also reduce pain! In July, a group of researchers from the UCL, the University of Sheffield and the Hospital for Sick Children, published a groundbreaking study showing how a derivate of Botox can provide long-lasting pain relief in mice without adverse effects.

The researchers mixed an opioid (dermorphin) with a variant of the botox molecule to create “Derm-BOT” and the molecule SP-BOT (a substance P-modified botulinum molecule). Then, they injected these molecules into the spine of different mice and found that they target and silences pain signals from neurons in the spinal cords of mice. One of the authors of the study, Dr. Steve Hunt (from UCL Cell & Developmental Biology), explained that Derm-BOT doesn’t affect muscles like the botulinum toxin used to reduce wrinkles but it does block nerve pain for up to four months without affecting normal pain responses. More positive features of Derm-BOT are that it is safe to manufacture, is non-toxic and doesn’t kill neurons.

The study covered 5 years and 200 mice that were treated with a single injection of either Derm-BOT, SP-BOT or morphine. The behavior of the mice was monitored to track their pain-response. Both SP-BOT and Derm-BOT have a long-lasting effect in both inflammatory and neuropathic pain model, successfully silencing neurons without cell death.

Chronic pain affects more than 25 million Americans and is related to reduced life span, anxiety, and depression. Given the current opioid crisis, aka abuse, addiction and overuse of prescribed opioid painkillers, having optional treatments for chronic pain is essential. Moreover there is little evidence that opioids have long-lasting effects, maybe because the body builds up a tolerance to repeated drug use over the long term.

Some reports indicate that opioids may increase the body’s sensitivity to pain. On the other hand, a single injection of Derm-BOT reduced mechanical hypersensitivity to the same extent as morphine. More studies in mice and a follow up on humans will help to understand and progress this new treatment that brings hope to the patients suffering chronic pain.

Read more from Jesica Mac Leod here.


Selective neuronal silencing using synthetic botulinum molecules alleviates chronic pain in mice. Maria Maiarù, Charlotte Leese, Michelangelo Certo, Irene Echeverria-Altuna, Antonina S. Mangione, Jason Arsenault, Bazbek Davletov and Stephen P. Hunt

Science Translational Medicine 18 Jul 2018:
Vol. 10, Issue 450, eaar7384
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aar7384

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