toxin-antitoxin

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toxin-antitoxin,

mixture of a poisonous substance, or toxintoxin,
poison produced by living organisms. Toxins are classified as either exotoxins or endotoxins. Exotoxins are a diverse group of soluble proteins released into the surrounding tissue by living bacterial cells. Exotoxins have specific reaction sites in the host; e.g.
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, with an antitoxinantitoxin,
any of a group of antibodies formed in the body as a response to the introduction of poisonous products, or toxins. By introducing small amounts of a specific toxin into the healthy body, it is possible to stimulate the production of antitoxin so that the body's
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, or antibodyantibody,
protein produced by the immune system (see immunity) in response to the presence in the body of antigens: foreign proteins or polysaccharides such as bacteria, bacterial toxins, viruses, or other cells or proteins.
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, in such proportion that a large percentage of the toxin is neutralized by the antitoxin. Although formerly used to immunize an individual against disease, toxin-antitoxin mixtures have been largely supplanted by toxoidstoxoid,
protein toxin treated by heat or chemicals so that its poisonous property is destroyed but its capacity to stimulate the formation of toxin antibodies, or antitoxins, remains.
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. See immunityimmunity,
ability of an organism to resist disease by identifying and destroying foreign substances or organisms. Although all animals have some immune capabilities, little is known about nonmammalian immunity.
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