Botulinum neurotoxins


Project introduction
Sensors for the detection of botulinum neurotoxins have been developed at the School of Chemistry at Bangor University as part of a KESS P.hD. project for the last 3 years. During this time a number of different electrochemical and spectrometry assays have been developed as outlined in the background section. In October 2013 the Welsh Government awarded a funding grant to further this research in partnership with IPSEN who produce the botulinum neurotoxin product Dysport®.

This research started in September 2010 as a P.hD. project, the aim was to develop an assay which was capable of detecting botulinum neurotoxins. Currently, the toxins are detected by the mouse bioassay which involves injecting live mice with samples and observing them for symptoms of the disease botulism over a number of days. Much focus has been placed on replacing this assay not only due to the suffering of the animals but due to the length of the assay and the costs associated with it.

The assays developed in this project use the botulinum type A, C and E specific protein SNAP-25 attached to a gold surface with the changes to this protein measured by electrochemical impedance spectroscopy and UV-visible spectroscopy.

  • R. Hobbs, C. Thomas, J. Halliwell, C. Gwenin, Rapid Detection of Botulinum Neurotoxins – A Review, Toxins (2019), 11(7), 418
  • A. C. Savage, N. Buckley, J. Halliwell, and C. D. Gwenin, Botulinum Neurotoxin Serotypes Detected by Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy, Toxins, 7, 1544-1555 (2015) DOI:10.3390/toxins7051544
  • J. Halliwell, A. C. Savage, N. Buckley and C. D. Gwenin, Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy Biosensor for Detection of Active Botulinum Neurotoxin. Sensing and BioSensing Research, 2, 12-15 (2014) DOI: 10.1016/j.sbsr.2014.08.00
  • J. Halliwell and C. Gwenin, A Label Free Colorimetric Assay for the Detection of Active Botulinum Neurotoxin Type A by SNAP-25 Conjugated Colloidal Gold. Toxins, 5, 1381-1391 (2013) DOI:10.3390/toxins5081381
  • Gwenin, C.D.; Halliwell, J. Detection of Botulinum Toxin – Publication No. GB2514825B

To successfully replace the mouse bioassay a number of criteria must be met. This project aims to develop a sensor which:-

  • Matches the sensitivity of the mouse bioassay
  • Does not use animals
  • Detects the active form of the toxin
  • Is low in cost
  • Is easy to run

Gwenin - Applied Research in Chemistry and Public Health (ARCH)

This project is in collaboration with IPSEN who produce botulinum type A for their product Dysport®. During this project, IPSEN has been kind enough to provide toxin samples along with their vast knowledge and experience and we look forward to extending this partnership.

Gwenin - Applied Research in Chemistry and Public Health (ARCH)

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Gwenin - Applied Research in Chemistry and Public Health (ARCH)

College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Bangor University, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2DG, UK

Direct Line: 0044 1248 383741   email:

Gwenin - Applied Research in Chemistry and Public Health (ARCH)


News: October 2019

Congratulations to Simon, Rob, and Pat, on the publication of the groups first CPP paper


News: July 2019

Congratulations to and Robert, Carol, Jennifer, on the publication of their Botulinum Neurotoxins Review in Toxins


News: June 2019

PhD Post Doc Forum group photo 3

We were delighted to attend the CALIN PhD/Post-Doc/Industry Forum, hosted by Prof. Frank Barry and the CALIN team at the National University Institute Galway.

News: June 2018

Congratulations to Simon and Vanessa on the publication of their new review