Botox injections – beloved by those seeking a wrinkle-free face – may help fight cancer, animal tests suggest. The study, published in Science Translational Medicine, showed nerves help stomach cancers grow. Research on mice found that using the toxin to kill nerves could stop the growth of stomach tumors and make them more vulnerable to chemotherapy.
Cancer Research UK said it was early days and it was unclear whether the injections could help save lives.
Botox is usually used in the fight against the signs of ageing, not cancer. The toxin disrupts nerve function to relax muscles and even out wrinkles, but a growing body of work suggests nerves can also help fuel cancer growth.
Scientists Columbia University Medical Centre, in New York, and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim investigated the role of the vagus nerve – which runs from the brain to the digestive system – in stomach cancer. Either cutting the nerve or using the toxin Botox slowed the growth of tumors or made them more responsive to chemotherapy. One of the scientists, Dr Timothy Wang, told the BBC: “If you just cut nerves is it going to cure cancer? Probably not. “At least in early phase, if you [disrupt the nerve] the tumor becomes much more responsive to chemotherapy, so we don’t see this as a single cure, but making current and future treatments more effective.”
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