History of Botulinum Toxin

With widespread interest dating over 100 years, Botulinum Toxin has gained increasing momentum and precedence within ever advancing medical research.
Botulinum Toxin originates from the bacterium Clostridium Botulinum.

Clostridium botulinum is a Gram-positive, rod- shaped, anaerobic, spore-forming, motile bacterium with the ability to produce the neurotoxin botulinum.

The botulinum toxin can cause botulism, a severe flaccid paralytic disease in humans and other animals and is the most potent toxin known to man.

The term is derived from Latin word botulus, meaning sausage, as poorly cooked sausages were formerly associated with food poisoning.

  • Clostridium Botulinum is anaerobic gram-positive bacillus with subterminal spore.
  • It is ubiquitous, widely distributed as a saprophyte in soil, animal manure, vegetables, and sea mud.

Justinus Kerner, a German poet and practising physician first wrote of the clinical symptoms of food botulism. His work was published between 1817 and 1822. Kerner also explored the use of Botulinum Toxin for therapeutic usage. Kerner experimented with the use of Botulinum Toxin on both himself and animals.

There are still a handful of botulism cases every year in Germany (and around 100 annually in the US), typically from consuming home-preserved foods—although thanks to an antitoxin developed half a century ago, far fewer people die from it than in the past.

Meanwhile, the toxin itself—especially types A and B—has found uses in many fields of research and medicine. The US has even researched it in the past as a bioweapon.