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Novel antitoxin strategy developed using 'tagged binding agents'
Date:2/25/2010

North Grafton, Mass., February 25, 2010 A study involving the world's deadliest substance has yielded a new strategy to clear toxins from the bodywhich may lead to more efficient strategies against toxins that may be used in a bioterrorist event, as well as snake bites, scorpion stings, and even some important chronic diseases.

A Tufts-led team developed the new strategy to deliver small binding agents that seek out Botulinum toxin molecules and bind to them at several points. The binding agents each contain a common "tag" that is recognized by a single, co-administered anti-tag antibody. Once the toxin molecule is surrounded by bound antibodies, it is flushed out of the system through the liver before it can poison the body.

Botulinum toxin, which causes botulism, is the most acutely poisonous substance known and is considered among the most dangerous bioterrorist threats. Studies have shown that one gram of the toxin, which is produced by a bacterium that lives in soil, could kill upwards of a million people. Although currently available antitoxins can be mass produced and delivered in the event of an outbreak, they are costly to develop, house and deliverand have a short shelf-life.

The Tufts study, in collaboration with researchers at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, is published this month in the journal Infection and Immunity and was funded by the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the New England Regional Center for Excellence (NERCE) for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases.

"We've proven this approach to protect against Botulinum intoxication in mice and we hope this will lead to rapid development and deployment of many new anti-toxin therapiesfor botulism and beyond," said Charles B. Shoemaker, PhD, professor of biomedical sciences at Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and the study's corresponding author.

The new findings expand on
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Contact: Tom Keppeler
tom.keppeler@tufts.edu
508-839-7910
Tufts University, Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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