New botulinum neurotoxin discovered—potential to treat a number of medical conditions

August 3, 2017, Stockholm University
Structure of the first botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT/A) discovered in 1897. Credit: Pål Stenmark

Botulinum toxins are currently applicable in more than 80 medical conditions including muscle spasms, overactive bladder, chronic migraine, cervical dystonia, sweating and cerebral palsy (CP). A 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 for someone exposed to a toxic amount of the substance," says Pal Stenmark, associate professor, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Stockholm University.

The research team will now develop antibodies with the ability to detect and inactivate the . "Within a few months, we will have developed ways of detecting if a person has been subject to BoNT/X," says Pal Stenmark. The researchers will determine the structure of the toxin and investigate how it binds to the nerve cell. They will also investigate how the unique properties of BoNT/X can be used to develop new therapeutics.

BoNT/X was discovered when an infant in Japan 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 4-million-letter blueprint of the bacterium, the research team identified the novel toxin.

"When we first discovered this toxin, I believed we had made some error in the analysis, but after checking several times, it turned out to be correct. This discovery opens a multitude of exciting research topics that we are eager to explore in collaboration with Dr. Min Dong's research team at Harvard," says Pal Stenmark.

Explore further: Scientists aim to give botox a safer facelift

More information: "Identification and characterization of a novel botulinum neurotoxin" Nature Communications, DOI: 10.1038/NCOMMS14130

Related Stories

Scientists aim to give botox a safer facelift

October 1, 2014
New insights into botulinum neurotoxins and their interactions with cells are moving scientists ever closer to safer forms of Botox and a better understanding of the dangerous disease known as botulism. By comparing all known ...

Botulinum neurotoxin in plastic surgery—what's the evidence for effectiveness?

August 30, 2016
Botox and other botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT) products are widely known for their use in treating facial wrinkles—but they can also be used to treat a wide range of non-cosmetic problems. Eight conditions with good evidence ...

Botulinum toxin does not cure common forms of neck pain

July 6, 2011
There is no evidence that Botulinum toxin injections reduce chronic neck pain or associated headaches, says a group of scientists who reviewed nine trials involving a total of 503 participants. Their findings are published ...

Recommended for you

New era for blood transfusions through genome sequencing

May 18, 2018
Most people are familiar with A, B, AB and O blood types, but there are hundreds of additional blood group "antigens" on red blood cells—substances that can trigger the body's immune response—that differ from person to ...

Robots grow mini-organs from human stem cells

May 17, 2018
An automated system that uses robots has been designed to rapidly produce human mini-organs derived from stem cells. Researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle developed the new system.

Scientists uncover a new face of a famous protein, SWI2/SNF2 ATPase

May 17, 2018
A team of Texas A&M and Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientists now have a deeper understanding of a large switch/sucrose non-fermentable (SWI/SNF) protein complex that plays a pivotal role in plant and human gene expression ...

Antibacterial in your toothpaste may combat severe lung disease

May 17, 2018
A common antibacterial substance found in toothpaste may combat life-threatening diseases such as cystic fibrosis, or CF, when combined with an already FDA-approved drug.

Blocking two enzymes could make cancer cells mortal

May 17, 2018
EPFL scientists have identified two enzymes that protect chromosomes from oxidative damage and shortening. Blocking them might be a new anticancer strategy for stopping telomerase, the enzyme that immortalizes tumors.

Emergency contact information helps researchers branch out family tree

May 17, 2018
When you go to the doctor or hospital, one piece of information that you're always asked to provide—in addition to your name, address, and insurance information—is an emergency contact. Often, that person is a blood relative. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.