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Botox: Background

Botox®, manufactured by Allergan Inc., belongs to a class of drugs called botulinum toxins, which derive from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Strange as it sounds, this is actually a very similar source of many common medicines, such as penicillin and other antibiotics, which derive from mould.

Although there are seven different types of botulinum toxin (A, B, C1, D, E, F, and G), most of the research conducted to date has focused on type A—called BTX-A, manufactured as Botox®.

The bacterium produces a protein that blocks the release of acetylcholine, which normally transmits messages from the nerves to the muscles to make them contract and move. Once transmission has been blocked, muscles relax, providing relief to patients with overactive muscles, reducing spasms and pain. The effect is completely reversible and generally lasts for a few months in most clinical uses.

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