A Possible Antidote to Deadly Botulism

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Researchers at the Institute of Advanced Sciences in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, have identified a compound that strongly inhibits botulinum neurotoxin, the most toxic compound known and a potential bioweapon for which there’s no approved antidote. According to this research, published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, this compound, called nitrophenyl psoralen (NPP) could be used to treat paralysis caused by botulism.

The researchers first identified the enzyme within botulinum neurotoxin that damages neurons and causes paralysis. Then they studied more than 300 natural compounds from extracts of medicinal plants to find enzymes able to neutralize this neuron-damaging effect. The researchers tested NPP in the laboratory and discovered it has powerful anti-botulinum toxin activity and low toxicity to human cells. In an experiment involving mice, the compound reversed paralysis caused by botulinum neurotoxin.

Botulism is caused by Clostridium botulinum, a type of bacteria found in soil. It can be contracted through food poisoning or wound contamination.

Sourced from: Applied and Environmental Microbiology