Research – Recent Developments in Botulinum Neurotoxins Detection



Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) are produced as protein complexes by bacteria of the genus Clostridium that are Gram-positive, anaerobic and spore forming (Clostridium botulinumC. butyricumC. baratii and C. argentinense spp.). BoNTs show a high immunological and genetic diversity. Therefore, fast, precise, and more reliable detection methods are still required to monitor outbreaks and ensure surveillance of botulism. The botulinum toxin field also comprises therapeutic uses, basic research studies and biodefense issues. This review presents currently available detection methods, and new methods offering the potential of enhanced precision and reproducibility. While the immunological methods offer a range of benefits, such as rapid analysis time, reproducibility and high sensitivity, their implementation is subject to the availability of suitable tools and reagents, such as specific antibodies. Currently, the mass spectrometry approach is the most sensitive in vitro method for a rapid detection of active or inactive forms of BoNTs. However, these methods require inter-laboratory validation before they can be more widely implemented in reference laboratories. In addition, these surrogate in vitro models also require full validation before they can be used as replacement bioassays of potency. Cell-based assays using neuronal cells in culture recapitulate all functional steps of toxin activity, but are still at various stages of development; they are not yet sufficiently robust, due to high batch-to-batch cell variability. Cell-based assays have a strong potential to replace the mouse bioassay (MBA) in terms of BoNT potency determination in pharmaceutical formulations; they can also help to identify suitable inhibitors while reducing the number of animals used. However, the development of safe countermeasures still requires the use of in vivo studies to complement in vitro immunological or cell-based approaches. View Full-Text

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