Botox: the new anti-fat weapon?

Botox might be a viable weight-loss tool, according to researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

The product, made popular by its ability to eliminate facial wrinkles, was shown to have a metabolic effect in rats when injected into certain areas of the body.

Helene Johannessen, a Ph.D. candidate at NTNU, and her team are studying whether Botox can be used on humans to treat morbid obesity, which could replace invasive and expensive operations.

Paralyzing the hunger nerve

Johannessen and her colleagues injected Botox into the vagus nerve and stomachs of rats. The team observed that the animals ate less and lost 20 to 30 percent of their body weight over the course of five weeks.

The vagus nerve, which extends from the brain to the abdomen, controls hunger and the passing of food through the intestines. In the rats, the nerve was effectively paralyzed. This, in turn, paralyzes stomach muscles, which slows the passage of food through the body and might help people feel fuller longer.

In scientific terms, Botox is botulinum toxin, a poisonous biological substance that can lead to paralysis and death if ingested in spoiled foods. Besides its cosmetic applications, Botox is used to treat movement disorders and spasms.

Clinical studies

Johannessen's study is part of the Experimental Surgery and Pharmacology research group, which is currently exploring alternatives to gastric surgery.

The team plans to start human clinical studies as soon as they receive approval from Norwegian medical ethics authorities.

"As a start, we will be inviting patients who are candidates for obesity operations but who, for one reason or another, cannot undergo one," Johannessen said.

Source: Science Daily

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