Is mRNA Therapy The New Botox?

Getting preventative Botox is so passé. Who needs it when you can just reprogram your cells to turn back the clock?

By Andrea Mew6 min read
Iuliia Khabibullina/Shutterstock

The No. 1 reason why people felt motivated to pop into the plastic surgeon’s office last year was to “feel refreshed/look younger after aging from pandemic stress.” We’ve cultivated a culture that fears aging. Once you see a fine line or wrinkle, you can’t unsee it, and then you inevitably begin to feel self-conscious, wondering whether others see it (even if they probably don’t care). This is undoubtedly why the most popular minimally-invasive cosmetic procedure last year (and in many past years, as well) was Botox.

Though it’s a nonsurgical cosmetic procedure, Botox is still off-putting to some people for the way it can make your face appear frozen. For those who know the tell-tale signs to look for, it’s actually pretty easy to know who does or doesn’t have Botox. But what if there were a better way to rid your forehead of wrinkles or decrease the appearance of crow’s feet on your outer eyelids that doesn’t include a frozen face whatsoever? Recent research spearheaded by the University of Texas suggests that mRNA therapy might just be the new Botox.

mRNA To Boost Collagen and Smooth Wrinkles Could Reverse Skin Aging

In an experiment done using bald mice, researchers at UT’s MD Anderson Cancer Center exposed two groupings of rodents to two months’ worth of UV radiation in order to develop wrinkles. One group received mRNA injections, while the other didn’t. At the halfway mark, the group of mice that was receiving mRNA injections had the same number of natural wrinkles as a third group of mice that weren’t receiving any UV exposure whatsoever.

mRNA was used in this instance to boost collagen production in the skin cells, but it should be known that research has shown that mRNA in medicine is difficult to target toward a specific issue.

“mRNA therapies have the potential to address a number of health issues, from protein loss as we age to hereditary disorders where beneficial genes or proteins are missing,” said corresponding author Betty Kim, M.D., Ph.D. “There is even the potential for delivering tumor-suppressing mRNA as a cancer therapy, so finding a new avenue to deliver mRNA is exciting. There is still work to be done to bring this to the clinic, but these early results are promising.”

There is even the potential for delivering tumor-suppressing mRNA as a cancer therapy.

Similar claims have been made lately that aging could soon be reversed. Altos Labs founder and chief scientist Rick Klausner and his biotech startup are focused on “medical rejuvenation” through resetting how DNA is expressed. Sure, it could make your cells look younger, but findings have shown that it could also cause cells to suddenly change, even causing cancer.

Reprogramming genetic expression could be promising for serious health concerns, but some are skeptical of the process and the overall morality behind it. In an interview with MIT Tech, one embryologist slammed Altos Labs, calling it an “alchemy project” and describing the founder as someone who drank “some Kool-Aid.” Furthermore, their technique actually reverts adult cells back to an embryonic stage which could really muddle up everything we know about linear aging, consent, and just evolutionary truth in general. 

Anti-Aging Treatments Like Botox Are Booming

These revolutionary findings come at an interesting time in cosmetic history. Whether it’s because of the Zoom effect or just social media use in general placing extra stressors on young women to appear flawless indefinitely, Botox as a treatment for wrinkles is on the rise. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported that Botox injections have increased nearly 30% over the past decade for patients between the ages of 20 and 29. 

There’s even a niche term for it too: preventative botox. Some cosmetic surgeons warn that it can actually age you. Others recommend that Botox injections in your 20s and 30s can prevent the formation of deep static wrinkle lines, possibly prevent wrinkles altogether, and save a patient on higher Botox costs later on in their adult years. 

When you consider that Botox injections to the standard areas (your forehead, glabella, and eyes) could run you anywhere from $300 to $600 every six months or so, it could seem beneficial to start earlier to reduce costs later, but are you really saving any money in the long run or are you just spending that money early?

Botox is the beauty standard. Point blank. Except for a vocal few, it’s nearly impossible to find any celebrities (males included) who don’t use a bit of the toxin here or there. Julianne Moore once said Botox actually makes you look like you got “work done,” not make you look “younger.” Kate Winslet went on record saying she didn’t “want to freeze the expression” on her face. Jennifer Aniston went so far as to say she believes in “no-tox,” disavowing the injections because, as she said, “It absolutely distorts people's faces, and you end up actually having the opposite effect. You look older, in my opinion, when you can’t move and don’t let your natural expressions have their way.”

Botox Can Do More Harm Than Just Freeze Your Face

There’s a reason why so many people inject themselves with Botox as their own personal fountain of youth: It’s usually quite effective. Botulinum toxin (or Botox, as it’s known on the streets) is genuinely a deadly toxin. Our friends over at the CDC have considered botulinum toxin to be one of humanity's greatest biological threats as it’s derived from Clostridium botulinum, which causes that pesky little deadly illness known as botulism.

Botulinum toxin is effective in preventing wrinkles because it nixes the release of neurotransmitters that signal movement to your injected muscles. It doesn’t necessarily remove existing wrinkles, rather temporarily paralyzes your muscles from even creating the wrinkles in the first place. But botulinum toxin only prevents the contraction of muscles that cause the fine lines in wrinkles and has an expiration date anywhere from three to six months after injection.

Every several months when you top off your Botox, you freeze your muscles once more and push back the clock on your skin’s natural aging process. In return, you also risk common side effects like difficulty swallowing, poor eyelid closure, muscle weakness, headaches, backaches, neck pain, bronchitis, the common cold, difficult or painful urination, urinary tract infections, nausea, low energy, and, in the worst case scenario, you experience muscle atrophy and negative impacts to your nerves and brain.

Botox can spread beyond the treated area, causing other parts of the body to have botulism-like symptoms.

Furthermore, the FDA actually had to issue a warning for Botox labels that your anti-aging injections could spread further than the treated area and cause other parts of your body to have botulism-like symptoms.

So knowing all that, should wrinkle-averse women consider ditching Botox for this new mRNA collagen-boosting treatment that the University of Texas has been researching? As revolutionary as mRNA technology may be, it also poses a wide number of risks that can’t be ignored in the quest for eternal youth.

We Should Still Be Wary of mRNA Technology

Though mRNA technology has been making its rounds in the scientific community for many decades now, the general public has had this treatment at the forefront of their minds because of Covid-19 vaccines. According to Covid vaccine developer Pfizer themselves, mRNA (messenger RNA) is a molecule that essentially contains a recipe to direct your cells to make a protein. It enters your cells encapsulated by lipid nanoparticles as a protective bubble, then your cells read the recipe and build an immune response. Rather than injecting your body with a virus (like typical vaccines do), mRNA technology has been harnessed to rewrite your cell’s functions so that you produce proteins that are meant to prevent disease.

Not everyone is eager for mRNA to be rolled out en masse, however. The doctor who claims to have invented the mRNA vaccine platform, Dr. Robert Malone, is so vocal about his skepticism surrounding Covid-19 genetic vaccines that he’s been silenced by social media platforms and skewered by the media for his appearance on The Joe Rogan Podcast.

According to his website, Dr. Malone watched as the technology he helped create was used to develop genetic, spike protein-based vaccines to fight against SARS-CoV-2. To him, the narrative was to normalize “adverse effects, mRNA stability issues, the nanolipid particle issues” and fast-track vaccines which he believed should have much longer clinical trials.

Botox and mRNA treatments have had their own unique relationship before the recent news broke of the latter potentially outperforming the former. Interestingly enough, research has found that the mRNA vaccines against Covid have actually caused Botox injections to wear off faster.

The study claims that the Botox users had to come back around 22 days earlier than they’d normally schedule out their next appointment. So instead of lasting about four to six months, wrinkles might appear more visible even sooner. Though the study didn’t explain why the mRNA therapy would lessen how long Botox could last, some think that it's because the immune response that mRNA is meant to trigger could respond to any number of injected foreign substances.

Do We Detest Aging Enough To Take On New Adverse Effects?

That’s certainly not the only adverse effect that mRNA poses for human health. Take the implementation of mRNA to fight Covid-19. Studies have shown that these “vaccines” do actually convert aspects of your DNA, despite the mainstream narrative pushed upon us that they don’t interact with or change a person’s DNA whatsoever. In the case of a newer Swedish study, researchers found that liver cells were being altered post-Covid jab even though the vaccine wasn’t developed to interact with the liver.

Then there’s the American Heart Association Journal which published a study that showed how mRNA-based vaccines caused "markedly elevated levels of full-length spike protein" in their blood, "unbounded by antibodies." This confirmed the alleged conspiracy theories that myocarditis can be linked to the vaccine, though the cases have been reported as rare.

Let’s also not forget how the Florida Department of Health discovered that males between the ages of 18-39 who underwent mRNA vaccines experienced an 84% increase in cardiac complications, or how the CDC finally announced an investigation into the Pfizer-BioNTech bivalent Covid-19 vaccine potentially causing an increase in ischemic strokes for individuals 65 and up.

Some prominent leaders like British Member of Parliament Andrew Bridgen believe that people are covering up research that linked the uptick in heart inflammation to mRNA vaccines and cited upwards of half a million adverse effect reports in the UK alone.

Skin appearance can be improved by consuming collagen-rich foods, staying hydrated, and sleeping enough.

This is all entirely relevant in any discourse about whether or not mRNA therapies are the right path for American medicine – and in this case, anti-aging cosmetic procedures – because the process clearly isn’t without flaws. The casing for mRNA (lipid nanoparticles) has been found to be inflammatory and spread mRNA around your body, possibly leading to neural pathway damage, permanent suppression and alteration of your immune system, and even an increased cancer risk. We know the mRNA shot has been linked to myocarditis, pericarditis, and cardiotoxicity. It has affected women’s menstrual cycles, and some obstetricians have spread awareness about potential birth defects, irregularities, and even sudden infant deaths in relation to the mRNA vaccine.

Do we, as a culture, loathe aging so much that we want to open up another Pandora’s Box of potential problems? You can hope that, because this is a cosmetic route for mRNA therapy, researchers will do their due diligence in clinical trials and not speedily enforce experimental shots on the general public this time around. 

You can also hope that the cell-altering mRNA won’t leak into different parts of your body and cause bodily changes you didn't sign up for. In all fairness, if the mRNA injections are to boost collagen, perhaps the worst that could happen is more cells in your body are given their own anti-aging facelift. Scientists are already on-track to “reprogram” your aging cells back to their youth, so perhaps medical rejuvenation may even be our answer to extend living ages well beyond what we previously imagined.

Closing Thoughts

Aging isn’t a curse, it’s part and parcel of the human experience. We’ve come a long way with topical treatments that push active skincare ingredients like retinoids or peptides into our skin, but that slow burn of a good skincare routine isn’t necessarily fast or effective enough for some consumers. Skin appearance can also be improved by consuming collagen-rich foods, staying hydrated, sleeping enough, and trying out different facials, acupuncture techniques, red light therapies, and more. 

There’s no certainty for what’s in store when it comes to future anti-aging treatments, whether that’s their effectiveness or availability. For all we know, in our lifetimes, these therapies could only become available to the uber-wealthy elites. So don’t place all of your eggs in one basket and skimp out on your self-care. And, honestly, don’t fear aging

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