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High-throughput screening technologies for botulinum neurotoxins

Bompiani, KM;Dickerson, TJ;

Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) are a class of bacterial neurotoxins that are the most potent toxic compounds reported to date. Exposure to relatively low concentrations of the toxin protein can result in major muscle paralysis, which may result in death in severe cases. In addition to their role in natural human disease, BoNTs are currently under close scrutiny because of their potential to be used as biowarfare agents. Clinical treatment options for botulism are currently limited, and finite stockpiles of antitoxin exist. In light of current bioterrorist threats, researchers have focused on identifying new molecules that can be applied to either sensitive toxin detection or improved clinical treatment. High-throughput screening (HTS) is a laboratory technique commonly employed to screen large libraries of diverse compounds based on specific compound binding capabilities or function. Here we review existing HTS platforms that have been applied to identify novel BoNT diagnostic or therapeutic agents. HTS platforms for screening antibodies, peptides, small molecules, and aptamers are described, as well as the screening results and current progress of the identified compounds.