Scientific Online Resource System

Conference Proceedings

Botulinum Toxin - historical overview

Boris Kyosev


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.


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

Full Text


Нели Ерменлиева, „Ботулинов невротоксин- от отровата до лекарството“

Burgen AS, Dickens F, Zatman LJ (August 1949). "The action of botulinum toxin on the neuro-muscular junction". The Journal of Physiology. 109 (1–2): 10–24

Li B, Peet NP, Butler MM, Burnett JC, Moir DT, Bowlin TL (December 2010). "Small molecule inhibitors as countermeasures for botulinum neurotoxin intoxication". Molecules. 16 (1): 202–20. doi:10.3390/molecules16010202. PMC 6259422. PMID 21193845.

Shukla HD, Sharma SK (2005). "Clostridium botulinum: a bug with beauty and weapon". Critical Reviews in Microbiology. 31 (1): 11–18. doi:10.1080/10408410590912952. PMID 15839401

"Kinds of Botulism". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 4 October 2016.

Barash JR, Arnon SS (January 2014). "A novel strain of Clostridium botulinum that produces type B and type H botulinum toxins". The Journal of Infectious Diseases. 209 (2): 183–91. doi:10.1093/infdis/jit449. PMID 24106296.

Kerner J (1820). Neue Beobachtungen über die in Württemberg so häufig vorfallenden tödlichen Vergiftungen durch den Genuss geräucherter Würste. Tübingen: Osiander.

Erbguth FJ, Naumann M (November 1999). "Historical aspects of botulinum toxin: Justinus Kerner (1786–1862) and the "sausage poison"". Neurology. 53 (8): 1850–53.

Snipe PT, Sommer H (August 1928). "Studies on Botulinus Toxin: 3. Acid Precipitation of Botulinus Toxin". The Journal of Infectious Diseases. 43 (2): 152–60.

Lamanna C, McElroy OE, Eklund HW (May 1946). "The purification and crystallization of Clostridium botulinum type A toxin". Science. 103 (2681): 613–14.

Drachman, 1971; Scott, 2004

Scott A (2004) Development of botulinum toxin therapy. Dermatol Clin

: 131–133

Scott AB (1979) Botulinum Toxin injection to correct strabism. Trans Am Ophtalmol Soc 79:924-927

Ting PT, Freiman A (2004) The story of Clostridium botulinum: from food poisoning to Botox. Clin Med 4: 258-261

Clark RP, Berris CE (August 1989). "Botulinum toxin: a treatment for facial asymmetry caused by facial nerve paralysis". Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 84 (2): 353–55. doi:10.1097/01.prs.000020

Scott AB, Rosenbaum A, Collins CC (December 1973). "Pharmacologic weakening of extraocular muscles". Investigative Ophthalmology. 12 (12): 924–27. PMID 4203467.

Charles PD (November 2004). "Botulinum neurotoxin serotype A: a clinical update on non-cosmetic uses". American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy. 61 (22 Suppl 6): S11-23. doi:10.1093/ajhp/61.suppl_6.S11. PMID 15598005.

Eisenach JH, Atkinson JL, Fealey RD (May 2005). "Hyperhidrosis: evolving therapies for a well-established phenomenon". Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 80 (5): 657–66. doi:10.4065/80.5.657. PMID 15887434.

Binder WJ, Brin MF, Blitzer A, Schoenrock LD, Pogoda JM (December 2000). "Botulinum toxin type A (BOTOX) for treatment of migraine headaches: an open-label study". Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery. 123 (6): 669–76. doi:10.1067/mhn.2000.110960. PMID 11112955.

Clostridium botulinum – Public Health Agency of Canada. (19 April 2011). Retrieved on 6 May 2012.

Arnon SS, Schechter R, Inglesby TV, Henderson DA, Bartlett JG, Ascher MS, et al. (Working Group on Civilian Biodefense) (February 2001). "Botulinum toxin as a biological weapon: medical and public health management". JAMA. 285 (8): 1059–70. doi:10.1001/jama.285.8.1059. PMID 11209178.


Font Size