New Type of Botox Discovered
Credit: University of Waterloo
A new source of the botulinum neurotoxin was discovered by Canadian and American scientists in a strain of animal gut bacteria known as Enterococcus faecium. The neurotoxic protein is known for its paradoxical ability to remove wrinkles yet cause botulism, a potentially fatal illness associated with food poisoning.
Over the past 20 years, there has also been a growing number of therapeutic applications for botulinum toxin type A, known as Botox, including treatment for migraines, leaky bladders, excessive sweating, and cardiac conditions.
"This is the first time that an active botulinum toxin has been identified outside of Clostridium botulinum and its relatives, which are often found in soil and untreated water," said Andrew Doxey, one of the study's two corresponding authors and a bioinformatics professor at the University of Waterloo. "Its discovery has implications in several fields, from monitoring the emergence of new pathogens to the development of new protein therapeutics--it's a game changer."
Doxey's findings were developed in collaboration with researchers from Harvard University and the Boston Children's Hospital.
In the study, originally designed to investigate the origins of antibiotic resistance in E. faecium bacteria, the researchers were able to sequence the genome of the E. faecium bacteria drawn from cow feces. The genome was then run through computer programs in Doxey's lab, which found the gene for botulinum toxin in the bacterial strain.
The researchers concluded that the botulinum toxin was likely transferred from C. botulinum bacteria in the environment into the E. faecium bacteria in the cow's gut, showing that the toxin can be transferred between very different species.
"The botulinum toxin is a powerful and versatile protein therapeutic" says Michael Mansfield, a Biology doctoral candidate in the Doxey Lab and one of the study's lead authors. "By finding more versions of the toxin in nature, we can potentially expand and optimize its therapeutic applications even further."
This article has been republished from materials provided by University of Waterloo. Note: material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.
Targeted Drug Could be Used to Treat Advanced Cancers Located Anywhere in the BodyNews
A new targeted drug could be used to treat a small number of advanced cancers no matter where they grow in the body.READ MORE
Human Malaria Parasites Grown for the First Time in Dormant FormNews
One of the biggest obstacles to eradicating malaria is a dormant form of the parasite which is resistant to most antimalarial drugs and can reawaken years later, causing disease relapse. Researchers have shown they can grow the dormant parasite in engineered human liver tissue for several weeks, allowing them to closely study how the parasite becomes dormant, what vulnerabilities it may have, and how it springs back to life.READ MORE
Bacteria Produce More Substances Than Genetics PredictedNews
Tandem mass spectrometry has revealed that Streptomyces chartreusis, an antibiotic-producing bacterium, releases more metabolites into the surrounding medium than scientists assumed based on the analysis of the genome. They might include molecules that are of interest as potential pharmaceutical agents.READ MORE