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New toxin is world's deadliest substance

Posted on Wednesday, 16 October, 2013 | Comment icon 22 comments

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)

Tags: Toxin

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #13 Posted by freetoroam on 16 October, 2013, 20:56
If this is something produced by man, I wonder how long it will be before this will be the next chemicle weapon.....if it has not already been patented by the military.
Comment icon #14 Posted by pallidin on 17 October, 2013, 4:34
Currently, this is not a "man-made" issue. Rather, it's a previously unknown highly toxic, and apparently rare, variant of a known deadly bacterium produced in nature.
Comment icon #15 Posted by freetoroam on 17 October, 2013, 9:25
If it has not previously been a threat to the human race, then its best they leave it where it is, leave it alone and stop interfering....unless its on land someone wants to build on, then thats a different story, maybe they want to build an olympic stadium on there one day.!!
Comment icon #16 Posted by kobolds on 18 October, 2013, 0:23
I wonder how fast this toxin will take to kill an adult. potassium cyanide kill with in a minute
Comment icon #17 Posted by freetoroam on 18 October, 2013, 0:41
Anyone we know?
Comment icon #18 Posted by Chooky88 on 18 October, 2013, 0:43
So why make it?
Comment icon #19 Posted by patagonianhorsesnake on 18 October, 2013, 1:13
read the article, people. or even some of the previous comments. it was not made. it's a previously unknown naturally occurring form.
Comment icon #20 Posted by Chooky88 on 18 October, 2013, 6:05
I stand corrected and admit I didn't read it.
Comment icon #21 Posted by Sundew on 18 October, 2013, 19:30
Soon to be made into the newest Botox no doubt. That will relax those facial muscles!
Comment icon #22 Posted by aearluin on 25 October, 2013, 15:03
Good thing that are keeping the genetic coding secret, although I am guessing it isn't secret for the U.S. military who will certainly try to make this into a new chemical weapon...

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