The multi-million pound industry of Botox can be traced as far back as the early 19th century, a time when scientists were eager to find a solution to food poisoning. As time passed towards the present day, the high level of research concentrated on the treatment has turned Botox not only into a massive part of the cosmetics industry but also an important solution for many medical procedures as well.
The beginnings of Botox are found with the realisation of the botulinum toxin by Justinus Kerner, a German medical writer who became prominent in the early 1800’s. The term ‘botulism’ was coined by Kerner after his research delved into the effects of poisonous sausages (botulus meaning “sausage” in Latin). His studies paved the way for botulinum toxin to be explored by other scientists over the forthcoming years.
Similar to Kerner’s sausage conundrum was a meal which caused multiple deaths and paralysis in the late 19th century. Belgian scientist Dr. Emile Pierre van Ermengem was employed to investigate this outbreak of botulism and discovered that the botulinum toxin was produced by a bacterium, now known as clostridium botulinum.
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As time moved into the 20th century, a host of studies revealed that there seven types of the botulinum toxin, referred to as types A through to G. By 1928, it was purified for the first time by European scientists and thus became possible to be used in medical procedures. As the Second World War amplified research in biological weaponry, botulinum toxin was considered as a weapon due to its lethally poisonous characteristics.
After the war, physicists began to expand on their belief that the toxin could be used for therapeutic purposes rather than more sinister puposes. In the 1950’s it was discovered that muscle spasms could be reduced when small amounts were injected into hyperactive areas,
Further work was conducted by the U.S based doctors Alan Scott and Edward Schantz, who began to purify the Type A of the toxin into crystalline form. They experimented with this on monkeys, looking at its muscle-relaxing effects on species with crossed-eyes and uncontrollable blinking.
The 1970’s and 80’s brought massive strides in the production of Botox as a commercial commodity. Dr. Scott began to test humans with tiny amounts and after many meticulous studies, it was deemed safe by the American Ophthalmological Society for some therapeutic treatments. Not only this, further research showed that temporary relief from muscle spasms around the body was also a positive effect.
With the buzz surrounding the type A botulinum toxin increasing, the Allergen company acquired the work of Dr. Scott and changed the trading name to Botox. By the 1990’s, Botox began to show further benefits and in 1992, Canadian ophthalmologist Dr. Jean Carruthers remarked of how her injections of Botox began to relieve wrinkles on her patient’s foreheads. Botox as we know it today was born.
By the start of the 20th century and with continued positive approvals from the FDA, Botox use became widespread in the softening of wrinkles on the face. A host of other medical problems began to be treated with Botox also, including hyperhidrosis, cervical dystonia and migraines.
With this Botox has developed remarkably in a short space of time to become one of the most widely used drugs all over the world and still researched intensely to this day. Reports suggest that its global market worth will reach around $3 billion by 2018.
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