"The highly potent botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) expressed by the anaerobic bacterium Clostridium botulinum pose a significant bioterrorism threat, and as such are listed as Category A agents of bioterrorism by the National Institutes for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). There is an urgent need for improved methods to diagnose human intoxication with BoNTs so that appropriate therapeutic and preventive measures can be rapidly applied. Diagnosis at the earliest stage of pre-symptomatic illness is critical to the administration of appropriate and effective clinical treatment, as well as implementation of preventive public health measures. A fully integrated end-to-end system, from sample preparation to data analysis, is needed to screen clinical samples. Recognizing the need for better diagnostic methods for BoNTs, NIAID convened a meeting of experts in Bethesda on May 23, 2003. The purpose of this meeting was to: (1) provide an overview of the current status of BoNT diagnostics and their limitations; (2) evaluate the scientific and technical opportunities to develop improved, validated detection methods for clinical samples and food; (3) identify potential hurdles; and (4) provide recommendations for the development of improved BoNT diagnostics as priority civilian biodefense products. This report is a summary of the discussions addressing these objectives."
NIAID Biodefense Research: http://www2.niaid.nih.gov/biodefense/Research/strat_plan.htm