Botox could aid cancer fight says study

In collaboration with the Press Association

Botulinum toxin, the 'face-freezing' Botox treatment usually associated with cosmetic surgery, could play a role in fighting tumours, scientists have suggested.

In experiments on mice, Belgian researchers found that injecting Botox into tumours opened up the blood vessels feeding the cancer. This allowed more effective delivery of treatment such as chemo- and radiotherapy.

Using this method, they were able to halt the growth of tumours that had previously proved resistant to therapy.

"This is the first experimental model demonstrating how Botox can affect the reaction of blood vessels that feed tumours," said lead researcher Dr Bernard Gallez.

"Botox appears to offer the advantage of selectivity, absence of toxicity and persistence for a longer time than other agents that act on tumour blood supply.

"Further research may help us determine whether this approach would be useful to treating cancer in humans," he said.

Previous research has focused on shutting off the blood supply to a tumour, essentially starving it of oxygen and nutrients. But Dr Gallez's approach is relatively new.

"It will be interesting to see if this early work can be followed up and proven to be safe and reliable in cancer patients," said Henry Scowcroft, science information officer at Cancer Research UK.

"These initial results show that this theory might work in practice, but they need to be taken much further before botulinum toxin can ever be used to aid cancer treatment," he added.