Novel assays for the detection of botulinum toxins in foods.

M. Wictome*, K. A. Newton, K. Jameson, P. Dunnigan, S. Clarke, J. Gaze, A. Tauk, K. A. Foster, Clifford Shone

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    Currently the only accepted method for the detection of botulinum neurotoxin in contaminated samples is the mouse bio-assay. Although highly sensitive this test has a number of drawbacks: it is expensive to perform, lacks specificity and involves the use of animals. With increasing resistance to such animal tests there is a need to replace the bio-assay with a reliable in vitro test. Over the past six years it has been demonstrated that all the botulinum neurotoxins act intracellularly as highly specific zinc endoproteases, cleaving proteins involved in the control of secretion of neurotransmitters. In the work described, this enzymatic activity has been utilised in assay formats for the detection in foods of neurotoxin from the serotypes involved in food-borne outbreaks in man. These assays have been shown to have a greater sensitivity, speed and specificity than the mouse bio-assay. It is envisaged that such assays will prove realistic alternatives to animal based tests.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)141-145
    Number of pages5
    JournalDevelopments in biological standardization
    Publication statusPublished - 1999


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