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Microbiology => Antitoxin


Antitoxin, antibody produced in the bloodstream of an animal or human being in response to the presence of a bacterial toxin, or poison. The antitoxin neutralizes the effect of the toxin. In 1890, the German physician Emil Adolph von Behring was the first to demonstrate that animals immune to diphtheria have substances in their blood serum that neutralize the toxin produced by the diphtheria bacterium. Serum antitoxins were first prepared and used in the treatment of diphtheria by the French bacteriologist Pierre Paul Émile Roux in 1894. Today, similar antitoxins are used to combat the toxins produced by tetanus and botulism. Antitoxins for use in human beings are produced in animals such as horses and cattle. The animal is injected with increasingly higher doses of the toxin and its defense processes respond by producing antitoxin. Some of the animal's blood is then removed and processed for use in human beings. An animal may be used to produce antitoxin for many years without apparent damage to itself.