For a number of years, we’ve praised Botox for allowing us to keep our youthful glow. This cosmetic injectable smooths out wrinkles and fine lines and lasts upwards of three months. It’s also a straightforward and painless procedure.
In recent years, we’ve also come to learn its value with migraines, muscle spasms, overactive bladder, and even excessive sweating. However, the latest research suggests it might be capable of much more.
Targeting Different Proteins
Harvard University and Broad Institute researchers have discovered that they can evolve the Botox toxin in a laboratory to target different proteins.
By creating selective proteins called proteases, they may be able to help with growth hormone regulation, neuroregeneration, and rampant inflammation reduction. These proteases could also assist with cytokine storm, which is a life-threatening immune response.
Making Huge Advancements
According to Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology postdoctoral researcher Travis Blum, who was also the first author on the Science-published study, there is potential for them to intervene in a number of conditions.
The team consisted of Harvard Medical School associate professor Min Dong and Thomas Dudley Cabot Professor of Natural Sciences David Liu, and others. Together, they were able to reprogram the proteases, which are enzymes that cut proteins to activate or deactivate them.
This process allowed them to cut new protein targets, including those with very little or no similarities to the starting proteases’ native targets. This led them to start designing treatments that could cross into a cell. Because botulinum toxin proteases can enter neurons in large numbers, they have a wider reach and are an attractive potential therapeutic.
According to David Liu, their technology allows them to evolve custom proteases with instructions for which proteins to cut. This could make editing the proteome now feasible, complementing recent technologies that allow us to edit the genome.
The gene-editing technologies we have today are designed to target chronic diseases caused by genetic errors. Once you’ve edited the gene to correct the fault, the symptoms often fade. However, neurological diseases aren’t genetic mistakes. Therefore, they can’t be fixed in the same way.
Protease-based therapists have the potential to boost your body’s healing abilities of things like nerve damage.
More Work Needs To Be Done
Even though protease-based therapies with botulinum toxin looks promising and potentially is, there is still work to be done before we start using them on humans as effective treatment options.
The proteins may also not be effective for people with chronic diseases because our bodies’ immune systems see them as alien. Their natural response is to attack them and stop them from working.
What’s more, even though the botulinum toxin can last in cells for up to three months, the evolved proteins might have significantly shorter lifetimes to make them less effective.
However, according to researchers, the proteases could end up being effective forms of temporary treatment since our bodies take some time to identify foreign substances.
Even though Botox is an FDA-approved form of treatment for wrinkles, fine lines, and a myriad of different health conditions, there is so much potential still left to explore. Harvard University and Broad Institute researchers may be onto a particularly exciting form of treatment for neurogeneration, growth hormones, and more. This is undoubtedly exciting news for those suffering from such conditions.