Botox a new treatment for Gastric Cancer

Botox a new treatment for Gastric Cancer

A vial if Botox

Botox the favorite substance of aging Hollywood stars that want that smooth expressionless face that are all the “rage” today. Botox is a toxic substance produced by the bacteria Clostridium Botulinum. Infection by the bacteria can cause Botulism which is a serious disease. Botox is the most commonly used cosmetic operation, it is performed by making small injections of the bacteria in to regions of the face. This paralyses the involuntarily controlled facial muscles and smooths the skin.

Botox a new treatment for Gastric Cancer?

In a recent study published in Science Translational Medicine scientists found new potential way to use Botox. The researchers explored a previously suspected connection, that the nervous system plays a role in the emergence and growth of tumors in the lining of the stomach, so called gastric cancer. They used 3 different mouse models of gastric cancer were the nerves to the stomach were surgically cut, or disabled by the botulism toxin. The researchers found that disabling the nerve connection both lessened the frequency of the gastric tumors and the growth progression of the tumors that emerged. The injection of the Botulinum toxin also made the chemotherapy used more effective at treating the cancer which prolonged the mice’s survival.

How does it work?

The researchers believe that the nervous system influence the tumor growth by releasing signaling chemicals. The denervation inhibits one type of signaling called Wnt signaling which works via the signaling molecule acetylcholine. The researchers confirmed that this was the mechanism by inhibiting a special type of acetylcholine receptor with a drug, or using a mouse that lacked the receptor all together. These experiments both led to a decreased rate of formation and growth of the gastric tumors.

In people with gastric tumors the stage, how serious it is, of the tumors is correlated with how much neural cells are present and that  Wnt signaling is active. These findings of how nerve signaling is involved in tumor growth could potentially lead to a new kind of treatment for gastric cancer, which is less toxic than currently used forms of chemotherapy.

Cover image credit: Eddie Codel via flickr.com in accordance with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Content image credit: AJ Cann via flickr.com in accordance with CC BY-NC 2.0