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Scientists Closer to Developing Botulinum Toxin Antidote

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Scientists Closer to Developing Botulinum Toxin Antidote

U.S. scientists say they've made a breakthrough in efforts to develop an effective antidote for botulinum toxin, which is a common cause of food poisoning and a potentially devastating biological weapon. One gram of the poison can kill hundreds of thousands of people, according to defense experts, BBC News reported.

The Clostridium botulinum bacterium produces seven different neurotoxins that can block the chemicals nerve cells use to communicate with each other and with muscles. This can paralyze the breathing muscles and cause suffocation.

The researchers developed a protein that blocks the effects of the most powerful of these toxins by fooling it into not attacking cells in the body, BBC News reported. It will take at least four to five years before this finding results in an approved drug, said the researchers at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York and the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

The findings are published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Currently, there are vaccines for botulinum toxin designed to be given before an attack. This research could produce as drug that would work after exposure.


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