Botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT) is a major therapeutic agent licensed in neurological indications such as dystonia and spasticity. In recent years, its use has steadily increased in other neurological areas and new therapeutic areas and also in the aesthetic setting. Paradoxically, BoNT is also the causative agent of the disease botulism and a potential bioterrorism toxin. The BoNT family of toxins comprised more than 40 individual members, classified into 7 serotypes and are produced by Gram-positive obligate anaerobic bacteria. BoNTs are enzymatic multi-modular proteins with a complex multistep mechanism of action. Their target site is at peripheral neurons, particularly the neuromuscular junction, at which they inhibit acetylcholine neurotransmission. Despite intense activity in the BoNT field, today there are still gaps in knowledge both in clinical practice and in basic research. The discovery of the structure-function of BoNT and its domains has allowed rational design of new features using molecular engineering. The diversity of BoNT molecules, both natural and engineered, is an invaluable pool from which to design future new therapeutics with unique pharmacological properties for current and novel indications.
Part of the book: Neurotoxins