Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bioterrorism: Fast And Sensitive Way To Detect Ricin

Date:
April 13, 2009
Source:
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Summary:
Scientists have developed a simple, accurate, and highly sensitive test to detect and quantify ricin, an extremely potent toxin with potential use as a bioterrorism agent.

Scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have developed a simple, accurate, and highly sensitive test to detect and quantify ricin, an extremely potent toxin with potential use as a bioterrorism agent.

Vern Schramm, Ph.D.Ricin, a protein extracted from castor beans, can be in the form of a powder, mist, pellet or solution. When injected or inhaled, as little as one-half milligram of ricin is lethal to humans. No antidote is available. The most infamous ricin attack occurred in London in 1978, when Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov died after being stabbed with an umbrella that injected a ricin-coated pellet into his leg.

The ricin assay described in the journal article was developed in the laboratory of Vern Schramm, Ph.D., professor and Ruth Merns Chair of Biochemistry at Einstein and corresponding author. The assay detects small amounts of ricin more accurately and faster than ever before.

Users of the assay would place samples of potentially adulterated food, or swabs used to wipe potentially contaminated surfaces, into a few drops of a mixture of reagents; the mixture will emit light if ricin is present, with higher luminescence indicating greater concentrations of the toxin.

Dr. Schramm believes the assay's most immediate application is for discovering drugs that could serve as antidotes for ricin poisoning.

"Previously we had to rely on laborious, multi-step methods to see if a compound was preventing ricin from working, which is probably why no antidote to ricin has yet been discovered," explained Dr. Schramm.

After ricin enters cells, it kills them by interfering with their ability to make proteins─a basic cellular function. Ricin does this by disrupting ribosomal RNA (the key component of ribosomes, the cell's protein manufacturing "machines"). The ricin attack causes ribosomal RNA to release a molecule of adenine. Dr. Schramm's assay detects and quantifies ricin by measuring the amount of adenine released by cells.

"Our lab's expertise is in enzymes," says Dr. Schramm. "One day I realized we could use a specific enzyme to convert the adenine released by ricin into ATP─a molecule whose presence can be easily detected by an already-available assay based on the light-emitting gene from fireflies. In retrospect, like many scientific advances, it's such a simple idea that I'm surprised it wasn't thought of earlier."

Ricin has also been used as an anticancer agent by linking it to antibodies that home to tumors and deliver the ricin 'warhead' to kill cancer cells. Einstein scientists indicate that detection of ricin in cancer trials may be an early use of this technology. While the researchers emphasize that the ricin detection method is now laboratory-based, they also predict that relatively minor changes will be needed to make detection of ricin by light practical for field and clinical applications.

Albert Einstein College of Medicine has filed a patent application on the ricin detection method and is interested in licensing the technology to a company or organization that would develop it further for drug discovery and public health applications.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sturm et al. Detecting Ricin: Sensitive Luminescent Assay for Ricin A-Chain Ribosome Depurination Kinetics. Analytical Chemistry, 2009; 090320161057080 DOI: 10.1021/ac8026433

Cite This Page:

Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "Bioterrorism: Fast And Sensitive Way To Detect Ricin." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090408104538.htm>.
Albert Einstein College of Medicine. (2009, April 13). Bioterrorism: Fast And Sensitive Way To Detect Ricin. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090408104538.htm
Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "Bioterrorism: Fast And Sensitive Way To Detect Ricin." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090408104538.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

AFP (Apr. 17, 2014) It walks and runs, even up and down stairs. It can open a bottle and serve a drink, and politely tries to shake hands with a stranger. Meet the latest ASIMO, Honda's humanoid robot. Duration: 00:54 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
German Researchers Crack Samsung's Fingerprint Scanner

German Researchers Crack Samsung's Fingerprint Scanner

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) German researchers have used a fake fingerprint made from glue to bypass the fingerprint security system on Samsung's new Galaxy S5 smartphone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Porsche CEO Says Supercar Is Not Dead: Cue the Spyder 918

Porsche CEO Says Supercar Is Not Dead: Cue the Spyder 918

TheStreet (Apr. 16, 2014) The Porsche Spyder 918 proves that, in an automotive world obsessed with fuel efficiency, the supercar is not dead. Porsche North America CEO Detlev von Platen attributes the brand's consistent sales growth -- 21% in 2013 -- with an investment in new technology and expanded performance dynamics. The hybrid Spyder 918 has 887 horsepower and 944 lb-ft of torque, but it can run 18 miles on just an electric charge. The $845,000 vehicle is not a consumer-targeted vehicle but a brand statement. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins