January 28, 2009

Scientists Reproduce Deadly Toxin

On Wednesday, scientists said that for the first time they have replicated an elusive seafood toxin found in shellfish and certain algae that can cause illness and even death, according to a study.

The researchers said that this achievement opens the way for tests to detect the poison and might boost efforts to find an antidote.

Chlorosulpholipids are molecules that form inside the cell membranes of host organisms.  They exist only in minute quantities, and this has stopped efforts to study their origins and effects.

In 2001, the molecule was discovered for the first time in shellfish, in mussels farmed in the Adriatic off the coast of Italy.

A trio of scientists at the Organic Chemistry Laboratory in Switzerland cracked the chemical code of the toxin in a series of experiments, making it feasible to reproduce the compound.

"The concise synthesis can provide enough material for biological and pharmacological studies," said the study, published in the London-based journal Nature.


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