BOTULINUM TOXIN: GOOD FOR COSMETIC INDUSTRY BUT THE BEST FOR BIOLOGICAL WARFARE

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NEUROTOXIN WITH BENIGN AND MALIGN NATURE

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Botox is the deadliest poison in the world, 4 grams of it would kill the entire population of earth.”

-Anonymous 

 

In the age of aesthetic industry terror, being beautiful and forever young is almost like an order and only possible solution that we survive in superficial society.  No matter who we are and what we do in our lives, we have to do all we can to stay attractive or we will be condemned by those who earn money on forced beauty and fake promises of breathtaking physical look. The fact about getting old is an algorithm for chaos in people’s minds. It seems that nobody likes wrinkles, which witness about the spiritual growth and life experience.  It seems that everybody likes Botox, that magical drug able to fix our betraying appearance and to offer us our own minute of fame.

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However, how many people really know the story behind the glorious Beauty Savior? Not many of them, especially not many of those who sacrifice their bank accounts and sleepless nights in pain for beauty. They would never think that Botox is a purified protein produced by the dangerous bacterium C. botulinum type A, developed thirty years ago by American scientists and for the medical purpose. The most interesting fact about this bacterial toxin is that it was one of the first toxins licensed by USFDA as a magical drug for the treatment of blepharospasm, known as  OCCULINUM.  That was just the successful beginning of the powerful BoNT because by January 2008, the two serotypes(A and B) have been approved for clinical studies and practice in the U.S. and by rigid and strict Food and Drug Administration.  The most fascinating thing about deadly Botulinum toxin is that this pure protein, in defined quantity and managed by highly professional surgeon will have an effective reply on disordered neuromuscular area.

On the other side, the cruel face of the anaerobic spore-former Gram positive bacillus  Clostridium botulinum is more than disturbing for people at risk to be victims of the devastating potential of its neurotoxins, capable to cause the botulism and to be misused as the threatening biological weapon, in some of the aspects of biological warfare or biological terrorism. The Indian researchers, Ram Kumar Dhaked and Manglesh Kumar Singh, have analyzed the full volume of this biological agent in their article for Indian Journal of Medical Research:”A single gram of crystalline toxin, evenly dispersed and inhaled, can kill more than one million people. The basis of the phenomenal potency of botulinum toxin is enzymatic; the toxin is a zinc proteinase that cleaves neuronal vesicle associated proteins responsible for acetylcholine release into the neuromuscular junction. As a military or terrorist weapon, botulinum toxin could be disseminated via aerosol or by contamination of water or food supplies, causing widespread casualties.”

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The BoNT is not just the most potent toxin that is known to the civilization but also the super destructive biological weapon with capacity to destroy the whole humanity, if it is in the wrong hands. Untreated, this biological toxin has a power to cause the death of targeted people due to the attack on respiratory muscles and generating the severe paralysis. There are four forms of botulism as a disease: foodborne, infant, wound and animal and according to the mentioned writers, it depends on the way the agent has reached the system:”Botulism initiates with acute weakness of muscles, causing difficulty in speaking and swallowing and double with blurred vision in all forms of diseases. This is followed by a progressive symmetrical flaccid paralysis, descending from the muscles of the head and throat, which in severe cases causes death due to respiratory muscles paralysis. Mental functioning is not impaired by BoNTs, so the patient remains alert and conscious throughout the disease. Botulism is confirmed by detection of BoNT in a patient’s serum or stool, or in a sample of food consumed before onset of illness.”

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The food-borne botulism is a classical type of botulism, linked to the food poisoning and wrongly preserved food. It does not surprise when the intoxication brings the outbreaks since the majority of people do not recognize the real techniques and standards of food preservation and anti/botulism measures. Unfortunately, the commercial products haven’t been perfect too and they have caused health problems, especially those like wrapped baked potatoes, canned chili sauce, jarred peanuts, hazelnut yogurt, carrot juice. 

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The second form is recognized as an infant botulism for which is still unclear the source of spores. Some believe that honey or environmental conditions could be a causer.

The wound botulism is being known as one that is coming from the open wounds and traumatic injuries. It is very similar to tetanus with the more destructive radius.

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The last form is animal botulism that is also not rare because animals are usually more  exposed to the potential activity of dangerous spores and toxins, especially livestock.

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The crucial problem about BoNT is its own effectiveness as a biological agent to be abused in some of the future conflicts, symmetric or asymmetric. That is not impossible and according to the old statistical data, it is enough only 39.2 g of pure BoNT to eliminate the complete humankind.  The biodefense experts are concerned about the sensibility of the societies we live in as well as about the efficiency of the   counter biological terrorism projects of the modern states.  If some criminal mind makes a decision to eradicate the enemies, it would be easy, through the options of deliberate contamination of food or via aerosol dissemination.

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The bacteria could be found in forest soils, lakes and streams so it is to be expected that is very easy to catch it as well to catch the spores that are heat-resistant and they could be easily produced in the food that is not processed in the appropriate way. This is the fast-acting toxin, known as an enzymatic zinc-containing protein that endangers one of the most important proteins in humans, responsible for circulation of  acetylcholine into the neuromuscular junction. At the moment when the bad protein attacks the good protein, we are close to death. The doctors have written the scary warning about the high level of killing ability of the BoNT:“…a single gram of pure crystalline toxin, evenly dispersed and inhaled, could kill as many as one million people.However, such a dissemination would be technically unfeasible, since an effective mechanism for producing a large aerosol of botulinum has not been successfully developed.Botulinum toxin can be absorbed through the gastrointestinal or respiratory tracts; however, it is not absorbed by intact skin. The estimated lethal dose for a 91-kg (200-pound) person is 0.9–1.2 micrograms per kilogram by inhalation, and approximately 90 micrograms per kilogram by oral ingestion.Symptoms of botulinum toxin poisoning can occur within as little as two hours of exposure, or as late as eight days after.The toxin is a white crystalline solid; in liquid form, it is odorless, colorless and (as far as known) tasteless. The toxin is a protein and is sensitive to heat; it is destroyed when exposed to temperatures above 176ºF (80ºC) for a 10-minute period. Thus the toxin does not survive in foods that are properly cooked during preparation.”

As we can see, this agent is totally fit to be addressed as the biological threat number one because of the all advantages it has. If we add to it that this biological threat is 50-100 times  more toxic than sodium cyanide, it is easy to be afraid for the biological security of the world we live in. The BoNT has been studies by US Army and Russian experts as the biological weapon and it is confirmed that is ideal to be produced since the bacteria could be simply grown up in the basic conditions. Now, the question is who will be able to produce the toxin and to release it  and how? Just as a reminder, an extreme  Japanese cult, Aum Shinrikyo tried to cause the chaos with liquid  sarin in  the Tokyo’s underground, but with BoNT the things would be faster and more destructive for people, since the toxin is quick in harming.

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There were concerns that some future biological terrorists or lone wolf fanatics could contaminate  the food or water reservoirs of the targeted population. The BoNt could be effective with the food contamination but regarding the water borne botulism it is hard to tell how that would be ever really effective. First, according to studies made by now, the toxin is inactivated by standard potable water treatment (chlorination) but it could be useful in untreated water for a few days, enough that someone could pull a trigger and being hit by the toxin.

The food contamination is imaginable scenario since that is natural surrounding  of toxin to be produced. There is no danger that the botulism could be ever transmitted from one to another person but it could take days to detect the common source of food poisoning and to stop the chain getting bigger and bigger. If the patient does not report the disease and start with the treatment on time, the death is on the road. Such events could have impact on global panic and disorientation and the biological weapon could cause the health, social and political disorder.

On the other side, agroterrorism could be also doable. Animal botulism would be a nightmare for a livestock industry and agro potential of every country. Those are sensitive points of the governments and  their fears are rational.

Between BoNT as a biological agent that could erase the mankind and Botox as a super powerful injection of beauty and never ending youth, it is the whole eternity, the time when we need to ask ourselves where we will finally find the balance.

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3 thoughts on “BOTULINUM TOXIN: GOOD FOR COSMETIC INDUSTRY BUT THE BEST FOR BIOLOGICAL WARFARE

  1. Sarah’s articulate and brilliantly written article brought to mind my years in Japan during the mid-1990s, when the Nipponese cult Aum Shinrikyo affected its acts of terrorism in Tokyo. Prior to this, it had produced botulinum toxin as a biological weapon, and the terrorist organization released it as an aerosol in central Tokyo. Fortunately, there were no casualties.

    It was in 1895 when the Belgian professor of bacteriology Émile van Ermengem (1851-1932) correctly described Clostridium botulinum as the bacterial source of the toxin. Thirty-four attendees at a funeral in Belgium were poisoned by eating partially salted ham; an extract of which was found to cause botulism-like paralysis in laboratory animals.

    By the turn of the 20th century, advances in Occidental microbiology had made thinking about ‘germ warfare’ part of the zeitgeist. The English author Jack London wrote a Science Fiction novel ‘The Unparalleled Invasion’ (1910), in which the Western powers wipe out all of China with a biological attack.

    The US-military’s first interest in any form of biological warfare came at the close of World War I: the US-military tested the toxin ricin; a product of the castor plant. The British military had already employed (circa 1700s onwards) small pox as a biological weapon in both its North American and Antipodean possessions (i.e. against aboriginals of those areas).

    Concerning chemical weapons, during the North American Civil War (1861-65), New York school teacher John Doughty proposed the offensive use of chlorine gas; delivered by filling a 10-inch (254 millimeter) artillery shell with two to three quarts (1.89–2.84 liters) of liquid chlorine, which could produce many cubic feet of chlorine gas. The idea was never applied by the US-federal government, though.

    The Hague Declaration of 1899 and The Hague Convention of 1907 criminalized the use of ‘poison or poisoned weapons, in warfare’, via International Law. However, more than 124,000 tons of gas were produced by the end of World War I, by all major belligerents.

    The French military was the first to use chemical weapons during The First World War, by using the tear gases ethyl bromoacetate and chloroacetone.

    One of Germany’s earliest uses of chemical weapons occurred on October 27, 1914, when artillery shells containing the irritant dianisidine chlorosulfonate were fired at British troops near Neuve-Chapelle, France.

    A total 50,965 tons of pulmonary, lachrymatory and vesicant agents were deployed by all major belligerents of World War I; including chlorine, phosgene and mustard gas. Official figures declare about 1.3 million casualties directly caused by chemical warfare agents during the course of the war. Of these, an estimated 100,000-260,000 casualties were civilians. Nearby civilian towns were at risk from winds blowing the poison gases through. Civilians rarely had a warning system put into place to alert their neighbours of the danger. In addition to poor warning systems, civilians often did not have access to effective gas masks.

    It has been alleged that the British military used chemical weapons in Mesopotamia in 1920, during The Iraqi Revolt, in the period of The British Mandate. In May of 1919 Winston Churchill argued ‘I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. We have definitely adopted the position at the Peace Conference of arguing in favour of the retention of gas as a permanent method of warfare. It is sheer affectation to lacerate a man with the poisonous fragment of a bursting shell and to boggle at making his eyes water by means of lachrymatory gas. I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes.’

    Several investigative journalists have alluded to clandestine co-operation between ISIS (official terrorist organization) and the CIA (unofficial terrorist organization) in the context of extending access to both biological and chemical weapons information and technical support. In March of 2017, Iraqi civilians were killed by a chemical weapon attack in Mosul, northern Iraq. In April of 2017, Australian and US-military contingents operating with the Iraqi Army were attacked with a chemical weapon. Certain investigative journalists have alluded to connections between source supply (i.e. the CIA) and the terrorists, for the purpose of enhancing and expanding the futile and insane War on Terror (i.e. lucrative pretext for the fossil fuel multinational corporations and their weapons manufacturing counterparts).

    Sarah concludes her excellent article with the issue of equilibrium of knowledge and tangible products, but US-Foreign Policy seldom proffers up leverage for logic and common sense to prevail…

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  2. Thank you, Sarah, as always, for your educational articles !

    As can be seen through your article, BoNT can cause the destruction of humanity, whereas Botox can help with beauty and eternal youth ! In my eyes, neither should be used ! The first for the clear reason that it would annihilate the human race and all animals, and the second because it is artificial and superficial !

    When will humans learn that life is not about superficiality and appearance ?! When will humans start valuing experience and wisdom ?!

    It’s about time society parted ways with this superficiality which often spawns dangerous byproducts that may be used to destroy humanity !

    “Mankind” is still just like a little baby that hasn’t learned anything yet !

    What a well-organized and well-written article, Sarah !

    Like

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About Sarahowlgirl1982

I am a master of Political Sciences, with special focus on Security Studies, Islamic Counter Terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction. I enjoy discovering and commenting things which are " in the air" but still not spoken.I also do like science writing and planing to move myself into the pure science journalism !