A modified type of Botox med spa treatment could offer sustainable pain relief without any harmful effects.
The University of Sheffield and the Hospital for Sick Children (UCL) Toronto elaborates in a new study that it could potentially substitute opioid medications as a safe and successful treatment for chronic pain.
This study was published in the Science Translational Medicine and funded by the Medical Research Council. In this research, scientists broke down the botulinum toxin molecule and reconstructed using an opioid known as dermorphin to develop Derm-BOT. This is a compound which effectively targets and suppresses pain signals emanating from the neurons located in the spinal cord.
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How it Works?
Pain management targets key neurons in the spinal cord because these neurons sense pain directly and send signals indicating pain to the brain.
The study’s co-corresponding author, Professor Steve Hunt (UCL Cell & Developmental Biology) explains that when injected into the spine, Derm-BOT treats chronic pain such as pain due to nerve damage. Furthermore, it also helps avoid the addiction and tolerance which is frequently associated with the use of opioid medications.
Professor Hunt further elaborates that Derm-BOT does not impact muscles in the same manner as botulinum toxin med spa treatment does when used to mitigate wrinkles. However, it does obstruct nerve pain for up to four months without any impact on normal pain responses. He states that Derm-BOT could change the manner in which chronic pain is treated by eliminating daily opioid intake requirements.
Millions of people across the globe suffer from chronic pain ranging from ‘moderate to severe’ intensity. It is a rampant social and health challenge which adversely affects the quality of life.
While opioids such as fentanyl and morphine are believed to be the best in pain management, there exists negligible evidence that using these drugs in the long-run can effectively treat pain. The reason for this occurrence is that the body becomes tolerant to the repetitive drug use over an extensive period.
In a paradox, opioids may be responsible for heightening the body’s pain sensitivity. Furthermore, opioid drugs can impact the brain’s reward sites leading to addiction.
Safe and Non-Habit Forming
Derm-BOT is relatively safe to produce, non-toxic, and non-addictive.
Dermorphin aims at and attaches to the opioid receptors on the neurons’ surfaces. This enables the Derm-BOT compound to access the cells and deliver the botulinum ‘warhead.’ This stops the release of the neurotransmitter for a period which silences the cells that transmit pain signals to the brain.
This study took place over a five year period where 200 mice were used to simulate the early stages of human inflammatory and neuropathic pain. These mice were treated with SP-BOT (a substance P-modified botulinum molecule), morphine, or Derm-BOT. The researchers monitored the response of the mice to track their pain reaction and investigated the locations and binding characteristics of the botulinum compounds.
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