An experimental drug disables deadly botulism toxin much better than current treatment does, researchers report. They also suggest that the drug could be mass-produced and stockpiled as a deterrent to the use of botulism toxin, or botulin, as a weapon.
Scientists in recent years have identified antibodies that people and animals make when exposed to botulin or a botulism vaccine. The researchers reporting the new finding fashioned their drug from three antibodies–two from mice and one from a person–that bind well to the toxin. None knocks it out alone, but two thwart it somewhat, and all three working in concert neutralize botulin, the researchers report in an upcoming Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
When injected into mice, the triple antidote protects the animals even when they're exposed to amounts of the toxin far beyond those that are normally lethal.