Tracking Down Deadly Poison

Scientists develop pair of quick tests for botulinum toxin

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TUESDAY, Sept. 28, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Two quick tests for the deadly botulinum toxin have been developed by scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

These new tests may prove useful in new technologies to fight bioterrorism or in the development of substances that can counter the toxic effects of botulinum toxin. Both tests are superior to current technologies to detect this lethal poison, according to the scientists who developed them.

One of the new tests is a real-time test that could be deployed in a kit and used in the field. It could potentially be used to protect food supplies, soldiers on the battlefield, or by emergency teams responding to a situation involving an unknown material. The old test takes days.

The second new test is a cell-based assay that lets scientists study the action of botulinum toxin in living cells. This technology could help scientists rapidly screen for chemicals that might counter the paralyzing effects of botulinum toxin.

The research appears in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about botulism.

SOURCE: University of Wisconsin-Madison, news release, Sept. 27, 2004

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