Advantages of Toxins
Many chemicals that are toxic can also be used as medicines in certain doses or used to create medicines. Some toxins are used as examples for the development of synthetic chemicals that have therapeutic benefits. Thousands of toxins are now being researched which is producing an abundance of new potential medicines. Learning how toxins affect human cells helps researchers find out how to protect, repair, and heal them. For example, the pufferfish produces a powerful toxin called tetrodotoxin, which affects the nervous system and can trigger lethal paralysis of vital muscles that regulate breathing and heart rate (Tietenberg & Lewis, 2016). However, the toxin produced by the pufferfish might also be able to treat chronic pain. Scientists at the John Theurer Cancer Center have discovered tetrodotoxin is more effective compared to morphine painkiller. Besides, tetrodotoxin has less devastating side effects such as nausea and drug dependence as compared to painkillers. Researchers at the John Theurer Cancer Center are investigating the tetrodotoxin-based pain reliever by administering it to a small group of cancer patients to confirm its safety and effectiveness in treating chemotherapy-related pain. So as to gain approval from the Drug Administration and U.S. Food they will have to compare its effectiveness and safety to existing medications used to treat chemotherapy-related (Tietenberg & Lewis, 2016).
An Example of a Toxin and its Applicability
Botulinum toxin is produced by Clostridium botulinum which causes botulism. Botulism causes general muscular weakness, and in severe cases, impairment of respiration and involuntary functions which results in death (Tietenberg & Lewis, 2016). However, small doses of botulinum toxin can be used as a treatment for spasmodic dysphonia, cervical dystonia, blepharospasm, hyperhidrosis, spasticity, migraine headaches, and glabellar lines. Botulinum toxin has also been used in small quantities as a cosmetic treatment and for the treatment of painful muscle spasms. Botulinum toxin is also used in the treatment of muscle hyperactivity disorders due to its ability to block motor neuron function.
Tietenberg, T. H., & Lewis, L. (2016). Environmental and natural resource economics. Routledge.