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Antitoxin strategy may help target other pathogens
Date:6/18/2012

North Grafton, MA, June 14, 2012 -- Researchers have unveiled a novel strategy for neutralizing unwanted molecules and clearing them from the body.

The strategy employs chains of binding agents, like "beads on a string", which target two sites on one or more pathogenic molecules to neutralize their activity and promote their clearance by the body's immune system. The low-cost, easy-to-replicate tool has demonstrated applications against several different toxins, from those found in contaminated food to those used in bioterrorism, and may also prove effective in targeting other types of pathogens.

The research team, based at Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, demonstrated the method's efficacy in preventing the symptoms of botulism, a rare but deadly disease caused by Clostridium botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT), considered one of the most dangerous bioterror threat agents. The findings were presented earlier this year in PLoS ONE.

"Currently, antitoxins are difficult to produce and have a short shelf life, making them very expensive. This new approach provides a low-cost way to develop highly effective antitoxins," said senior author Charles B. Shoemaker, PhD, professor of biomedical sciences at Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.

"This method has the potential to target a number of pathogens not only toxins such as BoNT, but viruses or inflammatory cytokines. It is an important platform through which to address other significant diseases," says co-author Saul Tzipori, BVSc., DSc, PhD, professor of biomedical sciences and director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Cummings School.

Shoemaker and team had earlier found that pools of small 'tagged' binding agents were highly effective in targeting toxins, neutralizing their function, and flagging them for removal via the body's immune system in the presence of an anti-tag monoclonal antibody.

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Contact: Thomas Keppeler
tom.keppeler@tufts.edu
508-839-7910
Tufts University, Health Sciences Campus
Source:Eurekalert  

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