Although the toxins are produced in large amounts by the relevant bacterial strains and are not difficult to purify, until recently most of them have been available only to a limited number of laboratories. The main reason for this is their extreme toxicity, particularly in the case of the botulinum neurotoxins.
These toxins are, by several orders of magnitude, the most potent poisons known to man. Due to the recent increase in their clinical use (mostly BoNT/A) and the high demand for scientific research, several of the toxins are now commercially available through specialized companies, for instance Alomone Labs (Jerusalem, Israel), Calbio-chem (San Diego, CA, USA), Sigma (St. Louis, MO, USA), and Wako (Osaka, Japan). Depending on the type and source of the toxin, it may be supplied as a complex of neurotoxin with non-neurotoxic proteins, or as a pure neurotoxin. If possible, purity should be checked by electrophoresis. Quantities provided are usually low, due to the potency of these toxins. Recently, recombinant L chains have been used in some laboratories although, due to the unusual codon usage (very AT-rich), the yields in E. co/i are low.
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