A study published in ‘Science Translational Medicine’ showed nerves help stomach cancers grow and animal tests suggest that the toxin injections may help fight cancer.
Research on mice found that using the toxin to kill nerves could halt the growth of stomach tumours and make them more vulnerable to chemotherapy.
Cancer Research UK said it was early days and it was unclear whether the injections could help save lives.
Scientists Columbia University Medical Centre in New York and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim investigated the role of the vagus-nerve (which runs from the brain to the digestive system) in cancer. Either cutting the nerve or using the Botulinum toxin slowed the growth of tumours or made them more responsive to chemotherapy.
Scientist Dr Timothy Wand told the BBC “At least in early phase, if you (disrupt the nerve) the tumour becomes much more responsive to chemotherapy, so we don’t see this as a single cure, but making current and future treatments more effective.”