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Diphtheria Toxin Policy

Do you use Diphtheria Toxin in your animal studies?

Diphtheria Toxin (DT) is a potent and lethal toxin. Recently, DT has become increasingly prevalent in biomedical research in the laboratory and in animals. For example, a transgenic mouse engineered to express DT receptors only on hepatocytes can be injected with DT, which will only kill the hepatocytes, creating a nonsurgical mouse model without a functional liver. The median lethal dose (LD50) for humans is estimated at less than 100 ng/kg by IM injection. Diphtheria toxin doses used in transgenic mice range from 0.5 µg/kg to 50 µg/kg depending on the scientific goal (10 to 1000 ng for a 20-gram mouse). Given the potential for accidental injection and detrimental effects when working with such high concentrations of DT, the Duke Biological Safety Division, Occupational and Environment Safety Office (OESO) and the Duke Employee Occupational Health and Wellness (EOHW) have developed a policy for work with Diphtheria Toxin that laboratories must follow.

If a titer and/or vaccine is required, an Internal Requisition & Invoice (IRI)” form MUST be presented to the EOHW on the day of your appointment.

If you have any questions/concerns, please feel to contact the Biological Safety Division at or 919-684-8822.