Botulinum toxin in cancer therapy-current perspectives and limitations
Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
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Different serotypes of botulinum toxins (BoNTs) act upon different types of SNARE proteins. This property is used in aesthetic medicine to treat certain eye disorders such as crossed eyes (strabismus) and uncontrolled blinking (blepharospasm), to treat muscle spasms or movement disorders, and, for the two last decades, more and more often, to provide support in cancer therapy, especially so as to obtain analgesic effects upon spastic conditions. The limited literature data also suggests that the addition of BoNTs to the culture of cancer cell lines reduces cell growth, and mitotic activity, and promotes their apoptosis. BoNTs have several advantages that can be emphasized: BoNTs act on both perfusion and oxygenation; moreover, BoNTs are considered to be safe and free of systemic side effects upon administration. Recently, advances in molecular biology techniques have allowed a wide variety of novel BoNT constructs with alternative functions. These constructs could be assessed as potential new classes of anti-cancer drugs. This creates new potential perspectives in the wider use of non-toxic modified BoNT constructs in cancer therapy. In the light of the mentioned premises and existing literature reports, the aim of this review is to summarize current data and reports considering BoNT use in cancer therapy. KEY POINTS : •Botulinum toxin (BoNTs) may be useful in cancer treatment. •Botulinum toxin can serve as an analgesic after cancer radiotherapy. •Botulinum toxin has the ability to inhibit tumor growth and promote apoptosis of neoplastic cells.
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