Australian researchers discover botulinum toxin blocker

Researchers from Australia have discovered a means of blocking the action of the potential bioweapon botulinum toxin, which may lead to ways to treat exposure.

A team comprised of scientists from the University of Newcastle, the Queensland Brain Institute and the Children’s Medical Research Institute has found a way to use a new class of drug called dynamin inhibitors to block the toxin from updating, according to

“We have designed and tested a new molecule called Dyngo-4a, which prevents botulinum toxin from entering nerve cells,” QBI Associate Professor Dr. Frank Meunier said," reports. “Dyngo-4a works by blocking the action of a protein called dynamin which plays a key role in controlling how most molecules can enter nerve cells.”

Because terrorists have attempted to use botulinum toxin as a bioweapon, finding a countermeasure to treat it has become a high priority for the United States.

“The toxin that causes botulism is one of the most deadly agents known – it's been estimated that a single gram of it in crystalline form could kill more than one million people if distributed evenly,” Meunier said, according to

Dyngo-4a has proven capable of delaying the onset of botulism-related paralysis by more than 30 percent.

“This is significant because it may provide extra time for antibodies to take effect and minimize symptoms,” Meunier said, according to “Our research is the first to identify the protein dynamin as a suitable drug target for preventing botulinum toxin entering nerve cells throughout the body.”

The team's research is published online in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.