Botox: A wonder drug?

When inhaled, as little as 100 nanograms can be lethal for the average-sized person. When distributed evenly, 1g can kill more than one million people.

In a fascinating twist however, this potent neurotoxin also produces a powerful and very effective therapeutic agent known as botulinum toxin type A. 

Commonly known by its trade names Botox or Dysport, it works by blocking the release of acetylcholine from motor or autonomic nerve endings and causing temporary muscle relaxation or weakness.

It was first trialled in the 1960s when US ophthalmologist Dr Alan Scott used an injectable formulation in monkeys with strabismus, to alter ocular alignment.1

On the back of promising results, and with approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Dr Scott then began injecting small amounts into humans with strabismus. He showed botulinum toxin type A was both safe and useful.2

In 1989 the FDA agreed to approve the botulinum