Botulinum Toxin Research

The University of Wisconsin Food Research Institute has been conducting botulinum toxin research for over twenty years. During the 1990’s, notable improvements in the development and manufacturing of research grade botulinum toxin have been made in the laboratories of Dr. Eric Johnson.

Dr. Johnson’s lab at the UW has spent the last several years developing a botulinum toxin that is superior to the toxin products that are available from other sources. These improvements include higher toxin specificity, less vial to vial variability, decreased immunogenicity, higher purity and longer term stability.  This technology is the foundation on which Metabiologics, Inc., has been created.

Toxin Technology. Botulinum toxin is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. It produces a dose-related weakness of skeletal muscle by impairing the release of acetylcholine at the neuromuscular junction. There are at least seven immunologically distinct forms of toxin designated as types A-G. Type A toxin is the only one that is currently approved for medical use. Botulinum toxin’s high profile as a food contaminant comes from the toxin’s ability to weaken skeletal muscles to such an extent that it can cause partial paralysis and result in respiratory failure.

The toxin’s impact on the skeletal muscle system is what makes it such an effective drug in the treatment of certain diseases. When used in low concentrations and injected in an approved manner, botulinum toxin provides remarkable relief to patients suffering from a variety of diseases caused by spasms and other uncontrollable muscle disorders. Used as an injectable drug, the toxin “paralyzes” the designated muscle and acts to minimize pain, physical disfigurement, or uncontrollable muscle movements. Some of the historic and new indications that have the potential to be treated by botulinum toxin include:

  • Strabismus – deviations in the relative positions of the eyes
  • Blepharospasm – uncontrollable closure of eyelids
  • Dystonias – sustained involuntary muscle contractions
  • Spasticity from strokes and multiple sclerosis
  • Essential tremors and Parkinson tremors
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Orhthopedic applications where the immobilization of muscle is required
  • Pain syndromes

A dose of approved botulinum toxin will remain effective for several weeks to a few months. At that time a new injection is required. Metabiologic’s research plans include the development of a toxin that will provide a longer duration of activity, as well as the evaluation of data for all types of botulinum toxin, decreasing the immunogenicity of the product, and constantly developing improved manufacturing protocols. Dr. Johnson’s laboratory has successfully purified all seven types of botulinum toxin and are the only lab in the world known to purify type G.

Metabiologics is committed to the development of novel, rapid and sensitive botulinal toxin detection systems. Accordingly, individuals and corporate entities are encouraged to contact us regarding potential experimental collaborations.

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