Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Wisconsin scientists develop quick botox test

28.09.2004


Scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed a pair of rapid-fire tests for botulinum toxin, a feat that could underpin new technologies to thwart bioterrorism and spur the development of agents to blunt the toxic action of the world’s most poisonous substance.



Writing this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the Wisconsin group, led by UW-Madison physiologist Edwin R. Chapman, describes the development of two assays for botulinum toxin - one a real-time test - that vastly improve on current technologies to detect the deadly poison. "We needed a real-time assay," says Chapman, suggesting the technology could potentially be deployed to protect the food supply, soldiers on the battlefield, or used by emergency responders dealing with an unknown agent. "The old test takes days."

In addition to the real-time assay, which could be deployed in a kit and used in the field, the Wisconsin team also developed a cell-based assay that helps provide a glimpse of the toxin doing its dirty work in living cells. This technology promises a rapid screen for millions of chemicals to see which might inhibit the paralyzing effects of the toxin, according to Min Dong, a UW-Madison post-doctoral fellow and the lead author of the PNAS report. "The primary application is to conduct cell-based, large-scale screening for toxin inhibitors," Dong says. "A cell-based assay has the potential to reveal molecules that may inhibit various toxin action pathways."


Botulinum toxin is made by a bacterium that causes food poisoning. The poison is the most toxic substance known, six million times more potent than rattlesnake venom. It works by binding to nerve endings. The toxin is taken up by the nerves where it blocks chemical signals from reaching muscles. With enough blocked nerve endings, the toxin can cause paralysis and death.

In recent years, the nerve toxin has been used therapeutically to treat nerve disorders and help calm the muscles of cerebral palsy and stroke patients. It is best known to the public by the trade name Botox, which, in minute doses, is widely used in cosmetic procedures to smooth frown lines and wrinkles.

Last year, Chapman’s group identified the mechanism by which the toxin enters cells. Inside the cell, the toxin targets three key proteins, which are essential for mediating the release of chemical signals from neurons and that governs how messages are sent from brain to muscles. "The toxins are smart," Chapman notes. "They know where to go" inside cells to do the most damage.

The newest work, says Chapman, helps give scientists an inside-the-cell view of the toxin at work. The toxin employs a four-step process - from cell entry to blocking the release of chemical messengers from nerve endings - and interfering with any of the steps in the process can inhibit the poison’s toxic action. "We can screen for (agents) to block any one of those steps," explains Chapman. "We could screen one million drugs at a time, and you can do all the screening using live cells."

The potential upshot of such a screening technology could be the development of drugs that act like a prophylactic to confer protection from botulinum poisoning. The new tests, according to Chapman, can be conducted with ordinary lab equipment. It works by introducing into cells bioluminescent proteins whose glow is extinguished in the presence of the toxin. The tests are capable of detecting all seven variants of the poison. Currently, the most sensitive and common test for toxin activity is exposing mice to an agent. The process takes time and many animals are used and die in the process.

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation has patented the new botulinum toxin technology. In addition to Chapman and Dong, co-authors of the new PNAS paper include William H. Tepp and Eric A. Johnson, both of the UW-Madison department of food microbiology and toxicology.

Edwin Chapman | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wisc.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Nanoparticles as a Solution against Antibiotic Resistance?
15.12.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

nachricht Plasmonic biosensors enable development of new easy-to-use health tests
14.12.2017 | Aalto University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>