The TOXINS 2024 conference, which brought together experts from around the world who utilise botulinum toxin in their clinical practice and research, took place in Berlin, Germany from January 17th to 20th. The beautiful city of Berlin, covered in a pristine layer of snow, provided an inspiring backdrop for this gathering of minds, fostering an environment of collaboration and growth.

The first day of TOXINS marked the commencement of the conference with poster setup, a warm welcome, and opening remarks.

The second day of the conference was lively and began with a warm greeting from David Simpson, President of the International Neurotoxin Association, to the foremost experts in botulinum toxin. This was followed by Nils Brose of Germany discussing the molecular aspects of presynaptic nerve signalling. Preeti Raghavan from Johns Hopkins, USA, then shared intriguing findings on muscle physiology, focusing on the role of intramuscular hyaluronidase in managing fibrosis. Professor Robert Brownstone from University College London, both a neurosurgeon and neuroscientist, presented an engaging lecture on dystonia, eliciting numerous inquiries from the audience. Juan Pablo Henriques from Chile examined the prolonged effects at the neuromuscular junction. Additionally, the esteemed Barbara Karp from Maryland, USA, reviewed the latest advancements in using ultrasound and electromyography for guiding botulinum toxin injections, highlighting the criticality of injection depth.

The third day’s plenary session, chaired by Giampietro Schiavi, conference co-chair, featured Professor Peter McCaughan, King’s College London discussing somatosensory perception of pain and temperature in relation to botulinum toxin. Prof Bahman Jabbari, Yale Medical School, explored the role of toxin in cancer patients, while Sara Marinelli, Italy piqued thoughts when discussing the actions of the toxin beyond neurons. Mandar Jog of Canada shared their innovative system for assessing and treating tremors with Botulinum Toxin, showcasing videos from their case studies.

Both Thursday and Friday afternoons included parallel streams covering topics such as Spasticity, Dystonia, Dysphonia, Aesthetics, Basic Science, Migraine, and hands-on injections and ultrasound workshops. With numerous options to choose from, I focused on my primary interests, spasticity, and dystonia, to gain insights from around the world. Professor Alberto Esquenazi of the USA chaired the thought-provoking Thursday session on Adult Spasticity. Professor Tony Ward, a lifetime member of the BSPRM and ‘founder’ of RM in the UK, chaired the Friday Adult spasticity session and discussed the predictive value of diagnostic nerve blocks, skilfully fielding questions from the attentive audience.

During breaks, attendees had the opportunity to explore the poster hall and interact with presenters across the world.

The conference served as an outstanding venue for idea-sharing and establishing connections with global and UK-based colleagues, including Klemen Grabljevec, President of ESPRM, Serdar Kocer from Fribourg, Switzerland, and Professor Belgin Erhan from Istanbul, Turkey. From the UK, I had the opportunity to meet with esteemed professionals like Bhaskar Basu from Manchester, Rachel Farrell from UCL, Anton Pick from Oxford, Damon Hoad from Warwick, Sohail Salam and Revin Thomas from Newcastle as well as Eleonora Bradaschia and Ruairi Connolly of King’s College, London. These individuals are not only authorities in their respective fields but also inspiring figures with unique and thought-provoking perspectives.

On Saturday, I carefully packed not only my bag but also a treasure trove of innovative ideas, thoughts, and cherished memories, as I prepared to catch the flight to London and embrace reality, again. With a sense of readiness to apply these insights into my professional journey, I look forward to future conferences with anticipation.