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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Technologies for Detecting and Determining the Bioavailability of Bacterial Toxins

Location: Foodborne Toxin Detection and Prevention Research

Title: Botulinum neurotoxin: Where are we with detection technologies

item Singh, Ajay
item Stanker, Larry
item Sharma, Shashi

Submitted to: Critical Reviews in Microbiology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/21/2012
Publication Date: 2/1/2013
Citation: Singh, A.K., Stanker, L.H., Sharma, S.K. 2013. Botulinum neurotoxin: Where are we with detection technologies. Critical Reviews in Microbiology. 39(1):43-56. doi:10.3109/1040841X.2012.691457.

Interpretive Summary: Botulism is a serious, often fatal neuroparalytic disease in humans and animals caused by a protein toxin (botulinum toxin, BoNT) produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. BoNT is considered the most toxic biological substance known. Because of its high toxicity, the need for a long recovery period requiring extensive treatment, and the ease of producing BoNT, it is considered a class A bioterrorism agent. Recently BoNT has found increasing applications as a therapeutic treatment and in the cosmetic industry. Improved detection methods are needed to monitor toxin levels. Many advances in toxin detection have been reported. This review provides a convenient summary of these methods and compares them to the current ‘gold standard’ mouse bioassay. Furthermore, the review provides a platform for evaluating future research needs. Improved detections methods for this food borne toxin will enhance our ability to eliminate botulism from food.

Technical Abstract: The poisonous nature of botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT) poses a great risk to humans and also can be exploited as a possible bioterrorism and biological warfare agent. BoNT serotypes A and B have emerged as effective treatments for a variety of neurological disorders, in addition to their applicability in growing cosmetic industry. Due to its extreme toxicity and applicability as a drug, there is an urgent need to develop sensitive detection assays and therapeutic counter measures. In the last decade, significant progress has been made in BoNT detection technologies but none are capable to replacing the mouse bioassay, considered the gold standard. Recently, new advances in robotics and availability of new research reagents has allowed development of automated multiplex methods for the quicker toxin analysis. These technologies need further refinement in order to generate an ideal assay for BoNTs.

Last Modified: 06/28/2017
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