Study Finds Modified Botox May Help Treat Chronic Pain

For years, research has been done to find effective treatments for chronic pain. Around the world, 1.5 billion people suffer from chronic pain, which can have a significant impact on their daily lives. And unfortunately, many chronic pain sufferers are left with little treatment and pain management options. In fact, many patients resort to opioids, which often have adverse side effects. But a new study found the possibility of using modified Botox to treat chronic pain.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, use of Botox and other neuromodulators has surged by 819% since the year 2000, with more than 7,000,000 treatments in the U.S. in 2017 alone. The study, which was published in Science Translational Medicine, involved researchers first modifying botulinum toxin by deconstructing the botulinum molecule and combining it with dermorphin, a strong opioid. The result is a product called “Derm-BOT”, which can help to block pain signals.

Co-author of the study and professor in cell and development biology at UCL, Steve Hunt, Ph.D., explained, “Injected into the spine, Derm-BOT relieves chronic pain – such as that caused by nerve damage – and avoids the adverse events of tolerance and addiction often associated with repeated opioid drug use.”

The study focused on using Derm-BOT solely on mice for now. Over five years, Derm-BOT and another modified botulinum molecule called SP-BOT were injected into the spines of 200 mice with inflammatory or neuropathic pain. After the injections, the mice were observed and their pain levels were recorded.

While the mice continued to act normally and show no signs of effect on their normal sensation, the researchers observed that the drug did reduce their heightened sensitivity to touch. This suggested that their pain had, in fact, diminished. The lessened pain seemed to have lasted up to 21 days after the initial dosage.

This research is especially significant seeing as how about 59% of those who suffer from chronic pain report an effect on their overall enjoyment of life. And while treatment options, like opioids, are available, they don’t always work for chronic pain sufferers. Furthermore, the human body can build up a tolerance to opioids, requiring the patient to continue taking higher dosages to feel the effects. And opioids can also actually increase someone’s sensitivity to pain.

For certain types of chronic pain, surgery may be an option. But despite there being about 46.5 million surgical procedures each year in the U.S., there are always risks with surgery. But researchers say that both SP-BOT and Derm-BOT showed the ability to relieve inflammatory and neuropathic pain without causing added damage.

In the past, other toxic substances, like substance P-saporin, were used to try to treat chronic pain as well. However, these other toxic substances often killed additional nerve cells while trying to block pain signals — and the substances were more difficult to manufacture.

Fortunately, Derm-BOT is both safe and easy to manufacture and does not show signs of killing additional nerves. So while this substance is far from being available to the general public, this study has certainly made headway when it comes to safely treating chronic pain.

Related posts