/an'ti tok"sin, an'tee-/, n.
1. a substance, formed in the body, that counteracts a specific toxin.
2. the antibody formed in immunization with a given toxin, used in treating certain infectious diseases or in immunizing against them.
[1890-95; ANTI- + TOXIN]

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Antibody formed in the body in reaction to a bacterial toxin, which it can neutralize.

People who have recovered from bacterial diseases often develop specific antitoxins that give them immunity against recurrence. Injecting an animal (usually a horse) with increasing doses of toxin produces a high concentration of antitoxin in the blood. The resulting highly concentrated preparation of antitoxins is called an antiserum. The first antitoxin developed (1890) was specific to diphtheria; today, antitoxins are also used to treat botulism, dysentery, gas gangrene, and tetanus.

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      antibody, formed in the body by the introduction of a bacterial poison, or toxin, and capable of neutralizing the toxin. People who have recovered from bacterial illnesses often develop specific antitoxins that confer immunity against recurrence.

      For medical use in treating human infectious diseases, antitoxins are produced by injecting an animal with toxin; the animal, most commonly a horse, is given repeated small doses of toxin until a high concentration of the antitoxin builds up in the blood. The resulting highly concentrated preparation of antitoxins is called an antiserum.

      The first antitoxin, to diphtheria, was discovered in 1890 by Emil von Behring and Shibasaburo Kitasato (Kitasato Shibasaburo), for which Behring received the 1901 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. Today, antitoxins are used in the treatment of botulism, diphtheria, dysentery, gas gangrene, and tetanus. If the toxin is a venom, the antitoxin formed, or the antiserum containing it, is called an antivenin. See also antiserum.

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Universalium. 2010.

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