NEUROTOXIN WITH BENIGN AND MALIGN NATURE
“Botox is the deadliest poison in the world, 4 grams of it would kill the entire population of earth.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.