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Jennifer Wollschlager
Teaching Specialist
Center for Learning Innovation
University of Minnesota Rochester
Unlucky Chucky and Toxins of the Neuromuscular Junction 

Signaling at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) is a complex process that is required for many actions that sustain life within humans. Toxins that act upon the NMJ, both natural and synthetic, act in a variety of ways to inhibit this function. This case study examines how a variety of toxins can act to disrupt the normal mechanism of function of the NMJ  by placing a protagonist (“Unlucky Chucky”) at an eco-spa in Colombia with his good friend Melody. Unfortunately, during their time at the eco-spa, things don’t always turn out well for Chucky. A variety of neuromuscular toxins are discussed including curare (d-tubocurarine), Botox (botulinum toxin A), physostigmine and sarin gas (GB). This case was designed to be used in a variety of classrooms ranging from an undergraduate introduction to biology course in a module focused on neuromuscular functioning, to an introduction to physiology course as an introduction to the NMJ; it could also potentially be used in a nursing course that is examining NMJ physiology.