Saxitoxin and the Induction of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning

Author:  Samantha Faber
Date:  March 2012

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Abstract

Both a potent marine biotoxin and neurotoxin, saxitoxin (STX) is considered the active chemical responsible for deaths associated with the disease known as Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP). STX manifests as a Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) due to significant algal cell proliferation in aquatic environments. Although its original detection was in 1957, the chemical currently lacks a detoxification pathway and detailed mechanism of action. Moreover, prediction and detection of STX is not fully understood, and frequency of saxitoxin blooms is on the rise. The physical and economic impact of saxitoxin on human and aquatic life continues to increase worldwide, stimulating a renewed interest and research into this chemical.