Researchers from the University of Wyoming’s School of Pharmacy recently conducted a study demonstrating the effectiveness of capsaicin in treating and preventing the effects of botulinum neurotoxin A.
Botulinum neurotoxin is a dangerous bioweapon that is considered a category A select agent because of its ability to cause widespread casualties via aerosol, water or food contamination. There are no therapeutic strategies available to treat BoNT/A intoxication, according to Abstracts Toxins 2012.
Baskaran Thyagarajan, an assistant professor of pharmaceutics at the University of Wyoming’s School of Pharmacy, and his team tested the anti-BoNT/A effect of capsaicin, an active ingredient of chili peppers. The researchers injected mice with capsaicin and found that the pepper derivative accelerated the recovery of the animals from BoNT/A mediated neuroparalysis. Capsaicin was found to enhance recovery by shortening the duration of neuroparalysis by 50 percent compared to a control group.
The researchers said that capsaicin has the potential to be developed as a novel agent to prevent and treat BoNT/A intoxication. Thyagarajan and his team said that further research to understand how capsaicin works is in progress, Abstracts Toxins 2012 reports.
According to the Federation of American Scientists, the botulinum neurotoxin causes botulism, a rare paralytic disease. The toxin destroys the ability of proteins in the body to release acetylcholine, a chemical messenger. Symptoms of botulism include slurred speech, dry mouth, double and blurred vision, breathing difficulty and swallowing difficulty. Death can occur when the muscles required for breathing are paralyzed.