Depree, Jonathan A
depreej at lincoln.ac.nz
Wed Jan 8 09:35:43 EST 1997
In article <5au01u$ohb at euclid.wadsworth.org> tivol at news.wadsworth.org (William Tivol) writes:
>From: tivol at news.wadsworth.org (William Tivol)
>Subject: Re: Deadliest Toxin?
>Date: 7 Jan 1997 17:10:22 GMT
>Depree, Jonathan A (depreej at lincoln.ac.nz) wrote:
>: In article <Pine.SOL.3.93.970103173910.5407A-100000 at nun.oit.unc.edu> jbullard at NUN.OIT.UNC.EDU (Jim Bullard) writes:
>: >On Fri, 3 Jan 1997, Anubis Ragnarok wrote:
>: >> Hello,
>: >> I was wondering what the deadliest toxin known to man was? I am new to biology.
>: >> -Anubis
>: Close, but no cigar. Last I heard the deadliest toxin known was a neurotoxin
>: produced by Clostridium botulinum.
> Is this restricted to *human* toxins? If not, one of the colicins
>might qualify. I think it takes only one molecule to kill the target or-
>ganism. Of course, that is only an E. coli, but if it truly takes only
>one molecule, it will be hard to beat that record. On the other hand, in
>terms of mg per kg, perhaps colicins are not so deadly.
One molecule of ricin will kill one cell. I suspect that one molecule of
botulinus toxin will kill one nerve cell. The bacterial toxins are pretty
deadly, I seem to recall that three reasonably active cells of C tetani will
produce enough toxin to kill an average human in good health.
Actually human toxicity is a bit problematic. Feeding toxin to students until
half of them die is frowned upon in most societies. What we usually do is find
the dose for rats (or similar animals). There is some evidence that some
toxins (like tetrodotoxin from puffer fish) are much more toxic whereas others
(like dioxin) are much less toxic to humans. It'll do until we find something
It seems I left that paper behind when I left home so I can't give specifics.
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