Saturday 19 October 2013

Secret botulism paper revealed

The discovery of a new form of the deadly botulinum toxin gets published. However, its sequence is hidden. This is the first time that the sequence of a newly discovered protein has not been revealed in a science papers that announces the finding.
Researchers at the California Department of Public Health in Sacramento discovered the protein, a new type of the extremely dangerous botulinum toxin, lurking in the feces of a child who displayed the symptoms of botulism. This is the eighth form of botulinum toxin recovered from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Clostridium botulinum is a soil bacterium. The spores can survive in most environments and are very hard to kill. They can survive the temperature of boiling water at sea level, thus many foods are canned with a pressurized boil that achieves an even higher temperature, sufficient to kill the spores.
The bacterium is perhaps best known for its neurotoxins, subdivided in types A-H, that cause the flaccid muscular paralysis seen in botulism. This is a serious food borne disease, and can be fatal. However, the bacteria are also the main paralytic agent in Botox. C., where weak forms are used by the some wealthy people to continue 'look young' by paralyzing their skin. The global botox market is forecast to reach $2.9 billion by 2018.
The botulism is of such toxicity and will be untreatable against existing medications. For this reason, the DNA sequence of the new botulism toxin will remain 'under wraps' until an antidote is developed, according to New Scientist magazine. This followed detailed consultations with representatives from U.S. government agencies, including Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Homeland Security.
The findings have been published in two reports on the website of The Journal of Infectious Diseases. One paper is titled "A Novel Strain of Clostridium botulinum That Produces Type B and Type H Botulinum Toxins"; and the second paper is called "Molecular Characterization of a Novel Botulinum Neurotoxin Type H Gene."

Posted by Tim Sandle

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