Concerns have been raised over the publication of the research. Image Credit: NCI/NIH
The new type of botulinum toxin is so deadly that its details have been withheld from public databases.
The protein botulinum is produced by the soil bacterium Clostridium botulinum and is able to block the release of a chemical that makes muscles work. The newly discovered toxin is so devastatingly effective that it takes as little as two billionths of a gram to kill an adult human.
Scientists working on the research have withheld the DNA sequence of the toxin due to safety fears, even a small amount of the substance could end in disaster and there is currently no known antidote.
"Because no antitoxins as yet have been developed to counteract the novel C. Botulinum toxin, the authors had detailed consultations with representatives from numerous appropriate US government agencies," wrote the editors of the Journal of Infectious Diseases. While the research itself will be published, the specific gene sequences of the toxin won't be.
A similar dilemma arose last year when research showing how to make the deadly H5N1 bird flu transmissible among mammals was published amidst protests over safety fears.
Source: New Scientist | Comments (22)