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Botulinum Toxin - historical overview

Boris Kyosev

Abstract

Cases of food poisoning with botulinum toxin have been reported as far back as Roman times. Emperor Leo VI of Byzantium prohibited the manufacturing of blood sausages with a law due to cases attributed to poisoning with Atropa belladonna. It was later proven that atropine does not have the effects described in the cases during his reign. It was not until the 19th century that scientists began detailed studies of the rising number of cases in which the patients reported nausea, vomiting, relaxation of muscles and inability to breathe properly. Such “outbreaks” of cases were reported in southern Germany and Belgium in short succession, which led medical scientists to believe they were connected. The toxin was first identified by Justinus Kerner - a German medical officer in Wuertemberg, as “fatty acids” or “fat toxin”. He failed to point the source of the toxin, however, he recognized the potential for medical use. Later in the 19th century Emile Pierre van Ermengem, a Belgian scientist, successfully identified the source of the “fatty acids”. It was later called Botulinum toxin after the Latin word for sausages “botulus”. Since then this substance, produced by C. botulinum, has been studied in detail by scientists around the world and many uses have been found. It is utilized in the treatment of neurological conditions, posttraumatic conditions, muscle spasms, irregular sweating, chronic pain, skin wrinkles, etc. The military have found use for it as well - the potency of the toxin can be effectively used in closed environments.

Keywords

botulinum toxin, Botox, Clostridium botulinum, therapeutic use, history, historical overview

Full Text


References

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