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14 August 2017
A new Botulinum Neurotoxin discovered

The first new Botulinum Neurotoxin in almost half a century has been discovered. Botulinum toxins are widely used to treat a growing list of medical conditions. The article has been published in Nature Communications.

Botulinum toxins are currently used on more than 80 medical conditions including Muscle spasms, Overactive bladder, Chronic migraine, Cervical dystonia, Sweating and Cerebral Palsy (CP). The new toxin, Botulinum neurotoxin type X (BoNT/X), has the potential to open up a new field of toxin therapeutics related to intracellular membrane trafficking and secretion.

Since Botulinum neurotoxins are the most toxic substances known, the development of detection methods and treatments is very important.

The discovery of BoNT/X facilitates the development of diagnostics and countermeasures which is important if someone would be exposed to a toxic amount of the substance.

Within a few months, ways of detecting if a person has been subject to BoNT/X, will have developed.

The structure of the toxin will be determined and how it binds to the nerve cell will be investigated. How the unique properties of BoNT/X can be best used to develop new therapeutics will also be investigated.

Discovered through an infant in Japan
It all started with an infant in Japan that became ill in 1995. In 2015 the genome of the bacteria isolated from the child was sequenced and deposited in a database. Hidden in the four million letter blueprint of the bacterium, the research team identified the novel toxin.

When this toxin was first discovered it was believed some error in the analysis had occured, but after checking several times it turned out to be correct. This discovery opens a multitude of new exciting research topics.

Reference: Identification and characerization of a novel botulinum neurotoxin;Nature Communications August (2017).

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