Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Marine doctor Alan Scott, Botox pioneer, dies at 89.

Marine Doctor Alan Scott, Botox Pioneer, Dies At 89.

It is a neurotoxin, 100 times more deadly than cyanide, and the cause of the foodborne illness known as botulism. During World War II and for several years afterward, the Department of Defense hoped to develop it as a chemical weapon. But it wasn’t until the 1970s that Alan Scott, an ophthalmologist, turned this toxin, Clostridium botulinum, into a cure when he began researching it as a cure for severe visual impairment.

Little did he know at the time that the therapeutic drug he developed would become the backbone of a billion-dollar industry known for its cosmetic use as a temporary wrinkle eraser.

Dr. Scott, who has come to be known as the “Father of Botox”, died on December 16 at MarinHealth Medical Center in Greenbrae. He was 89 years old and lived in Mill Valley.

According to his daughter Alison Ferguson, complications from sepsis were the cause.

When, in 1978, Dr. Scott first injected the potent paralytic Clostridium botulinum into the eye muscles of a patient who had undergone retinal detachment surgery that left his eye deviated to one side, he didn’t know who was more nervous, himself or the patient, said he to Scientific American magazine in 2016.

But the procedure was successful, and Dr. Scott perfected one of the deadliest poisons in the world, turning it into a life-changing drug – he called it Oculinum – for people with diseases such as strabismus, misaligned eyes.

Doctors also began using it to treat migraines and jaw spasm, among other ailments, and when they did, many of their enthusiastic patients noticed a curious side effect: the toxin’s ability to paralyze certain facial muscles smoothed out wrinkles around them, although its effects were less pronounced. . turns off after a few months.

Dr. Scott was amused by the non-standard trajectory of the drug under the new name Botox. His attention to this has always been exclusively therapeutic.

Dr. Scott and his colleagues spent decades researching and manufacturing what they called Oculinum. But since they didn’t have a patent, no pharmaceutical company would make it, and Dr. Scott took out a mortgage on his house and asked for small donations from doctors, who then used it in clinical trials.

He and his team had already developed Teflon-coated needles to precisely target muscles with various substances before settling on and then perfecting a toxin to treat strabismus and blepharospasm, a condition in which the eyes close involuntarily. In 1989, the FDA approved it for this purpose.

Dr. Scott had no desire to continue being a pharmaceutical manufacturer, and in 1991 he sold the rights to manufacture Oculinum to his distributor Allergan for an undisclosed amount. The following year, the company changed the name of the drug to Botox.

In the decades that followed, the public’s appetite for this facial enhancer increased dramatically. Film directors began to complain that actors were losing the ability to properly frown or smile—the “frozen face” has become a tabloid cliché. It has been ridiculed as a pernicious tool of a youth-obsessed society, a practice best left to reality TV stars.

But practitioners became more proficient in its use, and the age of its adherents continued to decline as more and more women argued that it was a necessary tool to secure employment in an ageist culture. Now Botox has become a household name, and its use is apparently as common as facials.

Alan Brown Scott was born in Berkeley on July 13, 1932. His father, Marion Irving Scott, was a dentist; his mother, Helen Elizabeth (Brown) Scott, worked in a laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley.

Dr. Scott received his bachelor’s degree in medicine from the University of California, Berkeley in 1953 and his medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco. He completed a surgical internship and residency in neurosurgery at the University of Minnesota, followed by a residency in ophthalmology at Stanford University. He was a founding member of the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco and a senior fellow and co-director of the institute for over two decades.

He married Ruth White, a teacher and housewife, in 1956. She died in 2009. In addition to daughter Alison, Scott is survived by his wife, Jacqueline Lemaire; three other daughters, Jennifer, Heidi and Ann Scott; son Nathaniel; four stepdaughters, Suzanne, Mary, Sally and Phyllis Lemaire; 20 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Dr. Scott was not the first scientist to explore the therapeutic potential of Clostridium botulinum.

“Sausage poison” is how Justinus Kerner, a German poet and physician, called the pathogen in the 1820s; he observed the paralytic effects of food poisoning in his city after one giant sausage made 13 people sick, six of whom died. After introducing it to snails, locusts and rabbits, Kerner finally introduced it to himself, noted its inhibitory effect on the autonomic and motor nervous systems, and hypothesized its use as a treatment for certain nervous diseases. (Decades later, a microbiologist named it Bacillus botulinum, after botulus, the Latin word for sausage.)

In 2013, Dr. Scott founded the Mill Valley Strabismus Research Foundation, where he developed the local anesthetic bupivacaine. At the time of his death, he was also working on a treatment procedure involving electrical stimulation of the eye muscles using a tiny implanted device similar to a pacemaker.

Meanwhile, sales of Botox for medical and cosmetic procedures continue to grow. According to the earnings report for the period from AbbVie, the company that acquired Allergan in 2020, the company generated more than $3.3 billion in global revenue in the first nine months of 2021, with cosmetics sales accounting for just under half of that figure.

World Nation News Desk
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