Poison beauty

A bacterium that causes botulism can be used to temporarily banish wrinkles (Asian Wall Street Journal, Nov 9, 1992). While treating a patient with dystonia -- a condition characterised by severe muscle contractions -- researchers at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Centre discovered the patient looked younger after being injected with minute quantities of the toxin extracted from the Clostridium botulinum bacterium.

Explains scientist Mitchell Brin, "The toxin weakens the muscle, making it less effective and so you don't get the wrinkling effect." The treatment, which physicians say is harmless in minute quantities, lasts about six months and costs about $700. Brin, however, cautions it has had limited success on people over 65.