Botulinum Neurotoxin - responsible for the deadly disease botulism and for the beneficial effects of smoothing out facial wrinkles - can also be used as a dreaded biological weapon.
When ingested or inhaled, less than a billionth of an ounce can cause muscle paralysis and eventual death. Although experimental vaccines administered prior to exposure can inhibit the destructive action of this neurotoxin - the most deadly protein known to humans - no effective pharmacological treatment exists.
Dr Syed Ashraf Ahmed, a research scientist at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) was the principle investigator toward designing an effective antidote to the most potent form of the toxin. He took a joint project with U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory and particularly worked in collaboration with Dr Swaminathan and eventually found that they can trick the toxin to bypass its normal binding protein. The work was funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
In this exclusive interview with VOA Bangla Service Dr Ahmed talks about the definition and the scope of Botulinum Neurotoxin, the potential and the real dangers involved with this toxic element and an antidote to it. Dr Ahmed hopes to make this discovery an eventual success for mankind.