Posted by Adam Awdish on
Devin J. Swiner, George R. Durisek III, Hannah Osae and Abraham K. Badu-Tawiah
Royal Society of Chemistry
April 30, 2020
Ricin is a natural and very potent toxin derived from castor bean plants that has recently been used as a biological weapon in many different circumstances. Fatal exposure in humans and animals can result from injection, inhalation, and/or ingestion in small amounts as low as 5 μg/kg-1.
Ricin toxicity is limited to the simultaneous existence of the active forms of its A and B chains. Thus, the ideal diagnostic method must detect both chains in a short amount of time to allow for the implementation of a proper emergency response plan. Ricin toxicity involves rapid distribution of the toxin to most organs in the body, making treatment particularly challenging if diagnoses is delayed.
Difficulties with direct detection result from large differences in ricin glycosylation, which leads to different bioactivity. To make diagnosis faster, the detection of small organic compounds as biomarkers for ricin poisoning is becoming popular. In this study, researchers present a new, two-tiered approach to diagnose ricin toxicity by detecting ricinoleic acid and ricinine. This technique takes as little as 2 minutes and is sensitive to the parts-per-trillion range. The fact that prior sample preparations are not needed in this procedure means that analysis can be performed in the field for emergency cases.
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