Bioterrorism Fear Led Scientists To Withhold Botulinum Toxin Info

Staff Writer | Nextgov | October 11, 2013

Researchers have uncovered a new breed of Botulinum toxin, however, they are withholding certain information about the neurotoxin out of concern it could be misused by individuals seeking to develop a biological weapon, National Public Radio reported on Wednesday.

Botulinum toxin is produced by the bacterium, Clostridium botulinum, which is present in soil all over the world. The toxin in past decades was studied by governments for use as an aerially dispersed bio-weapon best-suited for use in an enclosed space or to poison food supplies. The Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo tried unsuccessfully to carry out botulism attacks in Tokyo in the 1990s. Though treatments are available for other forms of the deadly toxin, there is no cure available for the recently discovered version.

The new version was identified by Stephen Arnon and Jason Barash of the California Public Health Department. Information released by scientists online in the Journal of Infectious Diseasesintentionally was left incomplete.