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'Deadliest substance known to man' discovered
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (WKRC) -- Researchers from the California Department of Health have discovered a new type of botulinum toxin that they believe is the "deadliest substance known to man". It's so deadly that its details have been withheld from public databases because an antidote is not known.
The protein botulinum is produced by the soil bacterium Clostridium botulinum and is able to block the release of a chemical that makes muscles work. It takes an injection as little as two billionths of a gram, or sniffing a dose of 13 billionths of a gram, to kill an adult.
The toxin blocks the release of acetylcholine, the chemical secreted by nerves that makes muscles work. People who accidentally ingest it, as can happen when the bacteria grows in food, develop botulism and eventually die of paralysis.
Typically, the gene sequence of the bacteria that create the toxin would be given to the public database GenBank, but the deadly nature of this botox has prompted a hold on the information.
The botulism toxin comes from Clostridium botulinum bacteria, seen here in a colorized micrograph. (courtesy James Cavallini/Science Source)