From Spoiled Sausage to Faces in 200 Years: Happy Birthday, Botox!

MakenzieR on 25 Apr 2012 at 3:30pm

botox birthday

Botox turned 10 years old on April 15th. Or rather, the FDA approval for cosmetic use had its 10 year anniversary. However you want to look at it, this injectable, reverser-of-time has transformed the medi-beauty industry. The number of Botox procedures has jumped 67% since 2002, according to statistics from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. And 6.4 out of 10 reviewers say it's worth a shot. 

In honor of this occasion, the folks over at In Your Face, a column for the Orange County Register, created an in-depth timeline of the origins of Botox. From being discovered in spoiled sausages to inhabiting the faces of huge Hollywood stars, it has come a long way.

1820s: German doctor Justinus Kerner identifies a toxin in spoiled sausages that causes food poisoning. The paralytic illness caused by Kerner's "sausage poison" earns the name "botulism," from a Latin word ("botulus") for sausage. Kerner speculates that small doses of the toxin might be used to treat nerve disorders and excessive sweating.

1895: Belgian bacteriologist Emile Pierre van Ermengem discovers that Clostridium botulinum bacteria produce the botulism toxin.

1920s: Botulinum Toxin Type A is first isolated from the Clostridium botulinum bacteria in a purified form as a stable acid precipitate by Dr. Herman Sommer at the University of California, San Francisco.

1940s: During World War II, American scientists explore potential use of botulinum toxin as a weapon. The U.S. produces botulinum toxin capsules for Chinese prostitutes to drop into the food of high-ranking Japanese officials. The plan is not put into effect because the military found it to be ineffective as a weapon.

1946: Researcher Edward J. Schantz, Ph.D. succeeds in purifying Botulinum Toxin Type A into crystalline form, for the first time providing scientists with the raw material necessary to study the molecule in greater detail.

1949: Researcher Dr. Arnold Burgen and colleagues in London discover that botulinum toxin blocks communication between nerves and muscles.

1960s: Ophthalmologist Alan Scott in San Francisco injects botulinum toxin into monkeys to see whether it relaxes muscles that cause crossed eyes.

1978: Scott wins approval from the Food and Drug Administration for extensive multi-site tests of botulinum toxin as a treatment for crossed eyes in humans. He calls the drug Oculinum and establishes Oculinum Inc. to make and sell it.

To see the rest of the timeline, head over to OC Register. They also have a pretty cool slideshow

Photo credit: Kyle Sackowski, The Orange County Register