Dr Keith Foster

08 March 2018

QIB Lecture Theatre

Botulinum Neurotoxin and Its Therapeutic Uses – Current Status and Future Developments

Speaker: Dr Keith Foster, Ipsen Bioinnovation Ltd, will present a seminar entitled: Botulinum Neurotoxin and Its Therapeutic Uses – Current Status and Future Developments

Keith Foster


Host: Mike Peck


Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNT) are major therapeutic agents that are licensed for clinical use in neurological indications such as dystonia and spasticity. The success of BoNTs as therapeutic proteins is based upon their unique biological properties, in particular their potency, specificity and extended duration of biological effect.

The BoNT family, produced in nature by clostridial bacteria, comprises several pharmacologically distinct proteins and new and differentiated BoNTs continue to be identified, including recently in non-clostridial species. This diversity of BoNT proteins offers exciting possibilities for future therapeutics.

Increased understanding of the molecular basis of BoNT activity is also enabling development of novel modified neurotoxins with increased therapeutic potential. Using recombinant protein technology and rational genetic modifications this opportunity for next generation neurotoxin therapeutics is becoming a reality that will allow the therapeutic benefits of these fascinating proteins to be extended to even more clinical conditions.

Dr Foster is a biochemist with over 30 years of research and management experience in pharmaceutical R&D, including positions with SmithKline Beecham and Ipsen. Following a first degree in Natural Science from the University of Cambridge, he completed a PhD on the biochemistry of permeability changes in eukaryotic cell membranes caused by enveloped viruses at St George’s Hospital Medical School, University of London.

Following post-doctoral research into inositol phosphate metabolism in neuronal tissue with Professor Tim Hawthorne at the University of Nottingham, in 1982 he moved to Beecham Pharmaceuticals, subsequently SmithKline Beecham, where his research focused on arachidonic acid metabolism and signal transduction in inflammatory cells.

He left SB in 1992 to join the newly established Speywood Laboratory Limited, where he was responsible for establishing, de novo, a research facility and team to undertake studies into the therapeutic potential of botulinum neurotoxin proteins. In 1995, Dr Foster moved to CAMR, subsequently the Health Protection Agency (HPA) at Porton Down, to continue the work on neurotoxin derived therapeutics. This work established proprietary technology for the targeted delivery of clostridial neurotoxin endopeptidase activity into cells, and led to the spin-out of Syntaxin Ltd., of which Dr Foster was a Founder, from the HPA in 2005.

Dr Foster served as Chief Scientific Officer of Syntaxin until its acquisition by Ipsen in July 2013.  He is now VP Scientific Affairs Toxins at Ipsen Bioinnovation Ltd.  An internationally recognised expert in botulinum neurotoxin biology, Dr Foster was a founding member of the International Neurotoxins Association, and served on its Board between 2010 and 2013.  He is on the advisory board of the Botulinum Research Centre, a trustee of the Oxford International Biomedical Centre (OIBC) and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology.


All staff from organisation on the Research Park are welcome to attend.