Botox trialled as asthma treatment
A Melbourne research team is hoping it can help fight asthma by using Botox which is commonly used to reduce wrinkles.
The researchers are reporting promising results from injections of Botox into the voice box.
They will also trial using Botox to treat hay fever.
Yvonne Lakeland is one of a group of asthma patients who have undergone the new treatment involving the Botox injection.
She has had severe asthma for decades and has suffered many asthma attacks.
"There were times where I've had to be resuscitated and I've been on life support," she said.
The trial is being led by the director of respiratory medicine at the Monash Medical Centre in Melbourne, Professor Phil Bardin.
"In 11 injections we've given, nine we think have been successful," he said.
"What it's done is it's improved people's asthma symptoms - hasn't taken the asthma away obviously but seems to have improved it in many people.
"On the measurements we do on the CT scan, we can see that there's an opening of the voice box that suggests that more air is going through and suggests that people will be feeling less breathless with their asthma."
Professor Bardin says in asthmatics it is believed the voice box is asthmatic as well as the lung itself and that some of the limited air flow is caused by the voice box blocking the flow of air to the lung.
"So all the treatment does is it causes paralysis, or partial paralysis," he said.
"Some of the muscles in the voice box it relaxes and lets air through, in and out."
Despite the promising signs, Professor Bardin does not have enough proof that Botox can combat asthma but is planning a more comprehensive trial to find out.
Ms Lakeland is optimistic.
She had five asthma attacks last year and has noticed an improvement since her Botox injections.
"In February this year I had the first injection," she said.
"It's over four months now since I had the last one, which was only the second one and I still haven't had an attack.
"That's good news".
It is not the first time the botulinum toxin has been used in medicine.
It is used in neurology and as a treatment for migraines.
A comprehensive trial of the asthma treatment will begin next year.
Professor Bardin is hoping it can also be used to target the nerves responsible for hay fever.
"It will get under the surface, below the surface, and will be able to have an effect there," he said.
"It may be much more effective than say treatments with antihistamines that try to mop up the problem after it's occurred."
Professor Bardin is about to begin a trial of a gel to treat hay fever.