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Ricin

Castor beans

The protein ricin (pronounced rye-sin) is a poison manufactured from the castor bean (Ricinus communis). Its name comes from the seed's resemblance to the tick. Ricin can be extracted from castor beans and is known to have an average lethal dose in humans of 0.2 milligrams (1/5,000th of a gram), though some sources give higher figures [1]. It is considered to be twice as deadly as cobra venom.

Toxicity and manufacture

Ricin is poisonous if inhaled, injected, or ingested, acting as a toxin by the inhibition of protein synthesis. There is no known antidote; only symptomatic and supportive treatment is available. Long term organ damage is likely in survivors. In small doses, such as the typical dose contained in a measure of castor oil, ricin causes digestive tract cramps. Ingested in larger doses, ricin causes severe diarrhea and victims can die of shock. (See abrin).

Although the castor bean plant has long been noted for its toxicity, ricin was first isolated and named in 1888 by Hermann Stillmark. Modern feed-making techniques break down the ricin in castor beans by heating at 140 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes, although some studies suggest that residual toxic effects may linger. Although one seed contains enough ricin to kill an adult human, they may pass harmlessly through the digestive system if swallowed whole. [2]. Typically 2.5–20 raw seeds can kill an adult human; 4 a rabbit, 5 a sheep, 6 an ox, 6 a horse, 7 a pig, 11 a dog, but 80 for cocks and ducks.[3]

Ricin consists of two distinct protein chains (almost 30kDa each) that are linked to each other by disulfide bond:

  • Ricin A is toxic to the cell by interfering with Ribosomes, responsible for protein synthesis
  • Ricin B is important in assisting ricin A's entry into a cell by binding with a cell surface component.

Many plants such as barley have the A chain but not the B chain. Since people do not get sick from eating large amounts of such products, ricin A is of extremely low toxicity if and only if the B chain is not present.

Ricin is easily purified from castor-oil manufacturing waste. The seed-pulp left over from pressing for castor oil contains on average about 5% by weight of ricin. Since 0.2 mg of purified Ricin constitutes a fatal dose, this is a considerable amount of ricin.

As little as one castor bean, about 0.5 grams, may be fatal in a child.

In the United states, a person caught manufacturing or possessing ricin may be sentenced up to 30 years in prison.

Potential medicinal use

Ricin may have therapeutic use in the treatment of cancer. Ricin could be linked to a monoclonal antibody to target malignant cells recognized by the antibody. Genetic modification of ricin is believed to be possible to lessen its toxicity to humans, but not to the cancer cells. A promising approach is also to use the non-toxic B subunit as a vehicle for delivering antigens into cells thus greatly increasing their immunogenicity. Use of ricin as an adjuvant has potential implications for developing mucosal vaccines

Use as a chemical/biological warfare agent

The United States investigated ricin for its military potential during the First World War. At that time it was being considered for use either as a toxic dust or coated bullets and shrapnel. The dust cloud concept could not be adequately developed, and researchers believed the coated bullet/shrapnel concept was unethical. The War ended before it was weaponized.

During the Second World War the United States and Canada undertook studying ricin in cluster bombs. Though there were plans for mass production and several field trials with different bomblet concepts, the end conclusion was that it was no more economical than using phosgene. This conclusion was based on comparison of the final weapons rather than ricin's toxicity (LD50 <30 mg.min.m–3). Ricin was given the military symbol W.

The best-known documented use of ricin as an agent of biological warfare was by the Soviet Union's KGB during the Cold War. In 1978, the Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov was assassinated by Bulgarian secret police who surreptitiously 'shot' him on a London street with a modified umbrella using compressed gas to fire a tiny pellet contaminated with ricin into his leg. He died in hospital a few days later; the pellet was discovered by chance during an autopsy and the poison linked back to the KGB. Earlier, Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn also suffered (but survived) ricin-like symptoms after a 1971 encounter with KGB agents (D.M. Thomas, Alexander Solzhenitsyn: A Century in His Life, 368-378).

Despite ricin's extreme toxicity and utility as an agent of chemical/biological warfare, it is extremely difficult to limit the production of the toxin. Under both the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention and the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, ricin is listed as a schedule 1 controlled substance. Despite this, more than 1 million metric tonnes of castor beans are processed each year, and approximately 5% of the total is rendered into a waste containing high concentrations of ricin toxin [4].

In August of 2002, US officials asserted that the Islamic militant group Ansar al-Islam tested ricin, along with other chemical and biological agents, in northern Iraq.

To put ricin used as weapon into perspective, it is worth noting that as a biological weapon or chemical weapon, ricin may be considered as not very powerful, if only in comparison with other poisons such as botulinum or anthrax. Hence, a military willing to use biological weapons and having advanced resources would rather use either of the latter instead. Ricin is easy to produce, but is not as practical nor likely to cause as high casualities as other agents. Ricin denatures (ie, the protein changes structure and becomes less dangerous) much more readily than anthrax spores, which may remain lethal for decades. (Jan van Aken, an expert on biological weapons explained in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel that he judges it rather reassuring that Al Qaeda experimented with ricin as it suggests their inability to produce botulin or anthrax.)

Pure ricin could be dispersed through the air, however it would tend to be oxidized and rendered harmless by ozone, nitrogen oxides, and other pollutants in a matter of hours. Since it acts as an enzyme, catalyzing destruction of ribosomes, even a single oxidation is likely to render the ricin molecule harmless. Presumably it could be sealed inside some sort of dust particle that would dissolve in water, but this would be difficult.

The major reason it is dangerous is that there is no specific antidote, and that it is very easy to obtain (the castor bean plant is a common ornamental, and can be grown at home without any special care). Ricin is actually several orders of magnitude less toxic than botulinum or tetanus toxins, but those are more difficult to obtain.

Ricin patent

"Preparation of Toxic Ricin",
patent application.

The process for creating ricin is well-known, in part because a patent was granted for it in 1952. The inventors named in US Patent 3,060,165 (granted October 23, 1962) "Preparation of Toxic Ricin", assigned to the U.S. Secretary of the Army, are Harry L. Craig, O.H. Alderks, Alsoph H. Corwin, Sally H. Dieke, and Charlotte Karel.

The patent was removed from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database sometime in 2004, but is still available online through international patent databases.

Ricin extraction process

The extraction of ricin from castor beans is very similar to the prepartion of soy protein isolates. Modern extraction plants might use membrane filtration to make highly purified ricin isolates

Ricin is initially extracted from defatted castor beans by aquous extraction at pH 3.8 to yield a leachate containing solubilized ricin. The leachate is filtered to remove insoluble matter and the crude ricin then precipitated by the addition of a 12% solution of sodium sulfate with a pH of 7.0-8.0. After precipitation, the crude ricin cake is washed with a 16.7% solution of sodium sulfate to remove extranious nitrogenous substances. The precipitated ricin may be reextracted once to further purify it.

The final ricin precipitate is dried and then purified by floatation in carbon tetrachloride. An aerosol powder may be prepared by spray drying or air grinding the purified ricin using cold air.

Ricin-related arrests in Britain in 2003

It was widely reported in the media that traces of ricin were detected by British police in a flat in Wood Green, North London after a raid on a suspected ring of terrorists on 5 January 2003. Media reports stated that a group was suspected of intending to use the poison in an attack on the London Underground. However at the trial of Kamel Bourgass in 2005 it became apparent that within a few days of the raid the leader of the Biological Weapon Identification Group at the Porton Down Defence Science and Technology Laboratory had concluded that ricin was not present at Wood Green [5] [6]. Some acetone, 22 castor beans, and poor recipes for ricin and other poisons copied from the Internet were found. It appears that an individual conducting amateur research on poisons was found in this raid.

A little later several arrests were made in France and a bottle of something that tested positive for ricin was found. Further analysis identified the material as ground wheat germ. The analytic confusion was caused by the similarity of many plant proteins to one of the ricin components, which suggests that higher quality (better specificity and sensitivity) analytic tests for ricin are needed.

Six more suspects were arrested in Bournemouth in England in connection with the investigation into the alleged ricin incident in London. They were not convicted of any poisons related crime.

Three more suspects were arrested in Manchester in England in connection with the investigation of the alleged ricin found in London, following a raid carried out pursuant to an investigation into immigration issues. A Special Branch policeman, DC Stephen Oake, was fatally stabbed during the arrests, and three other officers were also injured, one seriously.

On January 20, 2003 Finsbury Park mosque was raided by police, apparently as part of the investigation into the alleged discovery of ricin in Wood Green. A number of men who were apparently living at the mosque were arrested.

On February 5, 2003, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell presented those arrested as the "UK Poison Cell" of a global terrorist network in making the case for military intervention in Iraq to the UN Security Council [7].

In April 2005 31-year-old Kamel Bourgass was jailed for 17 years after being convicted of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance "by the use of poisons and explosives to cause disruption, fear or injury". He was also jailed for life following a conviction for murdering the Special Branch policeman who went to arrest him. All others accused in connection with the Wood Green flat were acquitted on all counts.

Ricin in Washington, D.C.

Ricin was detected in the mail at the White House in Washington, D.C. in November of 2003. The letter containing it was intercepted at a mail handling facility off the grounds of the White House, and it never reached its intended destination. The letter contained a fine powdery substance that later tested positive for ricin. Investigators said it was low potency and was not considered a health risk. This information was not made public until February 3, 2004, when preliminary tests showed the presence of ricin in an office mailroom of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's office. There were no signs that anyone who was near the contaminated area developed any medical problems. Several Senate office buildings were closed as a precaution.

Ricin in popular culture

Ricin was the poison used in the Agatha Christie Tommy and Tuppence whodunnit The House of Lurking Death in a 1929 collection of short stories called Partners in Crime.

Ricin was used as the poison of choice of the murderer in the 1962 comedy film Kill or Cure.

Ricin was mentioned in the "call me the prankster" comic at toothpaste for dinner

The Penn and Teller book How To Play With Your Food (ISBN 0679743111) includes a "gimmicks envelope" of small objects related to the tricks inside the book. One of these is a sticker reading "With all-natural ricin!". The book explains that ricin is a poison.


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The book explains that ricin is a poison. * awarded by vote. One of these is a sticker reading "With all-natural ricin!". For more information, view the article on the WSOP for that specific year. The Penn and Teller book How To Play With Your Food (ISBN 0679743111) includes a "gimmicks envelope" of small objects related to the tricks inside the book. Below are the past winners of the main event, together with brief information about each year's main event. Ricin was mentioned in the "call me the prankster" comic at toothpaste for dinner. Cloutier, the 1985 and 2000 runner-up.

Ricin was used as the poison of choice of the murderer in the 1962 comedy film Kill or Cure. J. Ricin was the poison used in the Agatha Christie Tommy and Tuppence whodunnit The House of Lurking Death in a 1929 collection of short stories called Partners in Crime. Several living poker legends have tried unsuccessfully for years to win the main event, including T. Several Senate office buildings were closed as a precaution. Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer, the winners in 2003 and 2004 both qualified for the main event through satellite tournaments at the PokerStars online cardroom. There were no signs that anyone who was near the contaminated area developed any medical problems. The end of the 1988 main event was featured in the movie Rounders.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's office. Four players have won the main event multiple times: Johnny Moss (1970, 1971 and 1974), Doyle Brunson (1976 and 1977), Stu Ungar (1980, 1981 and 1997) and Johnny Chan (1987 and 1988.). This information was not made public until February 3, 2004, when preliminary tests showed the presence of ricin in an office mailroom of U.S. There have been many memorable events during the main events, including Jack Straus's 1982 comeback win after discovering he had one $500 chip left when he thought he was out of the tournament. Investigators said it was low potency and was not considered a health risk. (In 1971, the buy-in was $5,000.) Winners of the event not only get the largest prize of the tournament and a gold bracelet, but additionally their picture is placed into the Gallery of Champions at Binion's. The letter contained a fine powdery substance that later tested positive for ricin. The main event of the WSOP is the $10,000 buy-in no-limit Texas Hold 'Em tournament since 1972.

The letter containing it was intercepted at a mail handling facility off the grounds of the White House, and it never reached its intended destination. The fees and licences bring in over a million dollars to Harrah's. in November of 2003. Licensees include Activision (video games for different plaforms such as Nintendo's GameCube, Microsoft's Xbox, Sony's PlayStation 2 and PC featuring computer generated versions of stars like Ferguson among others), and products made by different companies ranging from chip sets, playing cards, hand held games and clothing like caps and shirts. Ricin was detected in the mail at the White House in Washington, D.C. Besides the Harrah's properties and ESPN, major sponsors have included Miller Brewing's "Milwaukee's Best" brand of beers, Pepsi's SoBe Adreneline Rush energy drink (sponsors of the 2005 TOC), Helene Curtis' Degree brand of anti-perspirant/deodorant, Card Player magazine, and GlaxoSmithKline/Bayer's Levitra erectile dysfunction medicine are all official corporate sponsors. All others accused in connection with the Wood Green flat were acquitted on all counts. Like any event or sports league, the WSOP also has corporate sponsors and licensed products, which like any leagues or events, pay fees to market themselves as an official sponsor and/or licensee and exclusively use the WSOP insigina and cross-promote with their events.

He was also jailed for life following a conviction for murdering the Special Branch policeman who went to arrest him. If the limit of 8,000 players buying in for $10,000 each is reached, the first prize is estimated to be $10 million as well as a special bracelet different than the others. In April 2005 31-year-old Kamel Bourgass was jailed for 17 years after being convicted of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance "by the use of poisons and explosives to cause disruption, fear or injury". The Rio will again host all 2006 WSOP major events, begining on June 25 with satellite events and formally start the next day with the annual Casino Employee tournament, and will feature the TOC on June 28 and 29, 2006, along with the various events leading up to the main event, which will be held from July 28 until August 10. Secretary of State Colin Powell presented those arrested as the "UK Poison Cell" of a global terrorist network in making the case for military intervention in Iraq to the UN Security Council [7]. A second event, scheduled to be held at Harrah's New Orleans, Louisiana property, is in limbo due to damage that it also suffered in said hurricane.). On February 5, 2003, U.S. (One event, that was scheduled for Biloxi, Mississippi was cancelled after the Grand Casino Biloxi, which was scheduled to host the event, suffered major damage from Hurricane Katrina.

A number of men who were apparently living at the mosque were arrested. During a break in the final table of the 2005 Main Event on July 16, Harrah's announced that eleven properties — including the recently added Bally's and Caesar's properites — would host 2005-06 WSOP Circuit events that started on August 11 in Tunica, Mississippi. On January 20, 2003 Finsbury Park mosque was raided by police, apparently as part of the investigation into the alleged discovery of ricin in Wood Green. Mike "The Mouth" Matusow won the first prize of $1 million (US), and all the players at the final table were guaranteed a minimum of $25,000 for the eighth and ninth place finishers. A Special Branch policeman, DC Stephen Oake, was fatally stabbed during the arrests, and three other officers were also injured, one seriously. The 2005 TOC, made up of the top twenty qualifying players at each circuit event, along with the final table from the 2005 Main Event and the winners of nine or more bracelets (Hellmuth, Chan and Doyle Brunson) would participate in the revamped TOC at Caesar's Palace. Three more suspects were arrested in Manchester in England in connection with the investigation of the alleged ricin found in London, following a raid carried out pursuant to an investigation into immigration issues. Starting in 2005, the WSOP began a tournament "circuit" at Harrah's-owned properties in the United States where in addition to the $10,000 buy-in tournament at each site, qualifying players became eligible for a revamped Tournament of Champions.

They were not convicted of any poisons related crime. It also added a made-for-television $2 million "freeroll" invitational "Tournament of Champions" (TOC) event won by Annie Duke as a "winner-take-all" event. Six more suspects were arrested in Bournemouth in England in connection with the investigation into the alleged ricin incident in London. In 2004, Harrah's Entertainment purchased Binion's Horseshoe, renaming it just "Binion's" and announced that the 2005 Series events would be held at the Harrah's-owned Rio Hotel and Casino, located just off the Las Vegas Strip, with the final two days of the main event held downtown at Binion's in celebration of the centennial of the founding of Las Vegas. The analytic confusion was caused by the similarity of many plant proteins to one of the ricin components, which suggests that higher quality (better specificity and sensitivity) analytic tests for ricin are needed. Subtracting the $10,000 buy-ins, over $47 million was won by 560 players in the event. Further analysis identified the material as ground wheat germ. In the 2005 main event $52,818,610 (US) in prize money was distributed, including a $7.5 million first prize.

A little later several arrests were made in France and a bottle of something that tested positive for ricin was found. Like most tournaments, the sponsoring casino takes a "rake" (a percentage between 6%-10%, depending on the buy-in) and distributes the rest, hence the prize money increases with more players. It appears that an individual conducting amateur research on poisons was found in this raid. Much of this growth can be attributed to the WSOP airing on ESPN and the World Poker Tour being shown on the Travel Channel, along with other televised series, as well as the boom of online poker. Some acetone, 22 castor beans, and poor recipes for ricin and other poisons copied from the Internet were found. For the 2006 main event, a cap of 8,000 players has been established. However at the trial of Kamel Bourgass in 2005 it became apparent that within a few days of the raid the leader of the Biological Weapon Identification Group at the Porton Down Defence Science and Technology Laboratory had concluded that ricin was not present at Wood Green [5] [6]. In the main event alone, participants grew from 839 in 2003, to 2,576 in 2004, to 5,619 in 2005.

Media reports stated that a group was suspected of intending to use the poison in an attack on the London Underground. In 2000 there were 4,780 entrants in the various events, but in 2005, the number rose to over 23,000 players. It was widely reported in the media that traces of ricin were detected by British police in a flat in Wood Green, North London after a raid on a suspected ring of terrorists on 5 January 2003. The number of participants in the WSOP has grown every year, and in recent years the growth has exploded. An aerosol powder may be prepared by spray drying or air grinding the purified ricin using cold air. Also, celebrities Patrick Bruel and Jennifer Tilly have won WSOP bracelets in 1998 and 2005 respectively. The final ricin precipitate is dried and then purified by floatation in carbon tetrachloride. Doyle's son, Todd Brunson, won a bracelet in a pot limit Omaha event in 2005, making them the first father/son combo to win at least one event at the WSOP.

The precipitated ricin may be reextracted once to further purify it. Doyle "Texas Dolly" Brunson and Johnny "Oriental Express" Chan have each won ten bracelets, while Phil Hellmuth has nine. After precipitation, the crude ricin cake is washed with a 16.7% solution of sodium sulfate to remove extranious nitrogenous substances. Event winners get, in addition to their prize money, a coveted gold bracelet. The leachate is filtered to remove insoluble matter and the crude ricin then precipitated by the addition of a 12% solution of sodium sulfate with a pH of 7.0-8.0. In 2006 there will be 42 events at the WSOP, covering the majority of poker variants. Ricin is initially extracted from defatted castor beans by aquous extraction at pH 3.8 to yield a leachate containing solubilized ricin. Since then new events have been added and removed.

Modern extraction plants might use membrane filtration to make highly purified ricin isolates. In 1973 a new event, five-card stud, was added to the main event of no limit Texas Hold 'em. The extraction of ricin from castor beans is very similar to the prepartion of soy protein isolates. From 1971 on, all WSOP events have been tournaments with cash prizes. The patent was removed from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database sometime in 2004, but is still available online through international patent databases. The winner, Johnny Moss was elected by his peers as the first World Champion of Poker and received a silver cup as a prize. Dieke, and Charlotte Karel. In 1970 the first WSOP at Binion's Horseshoe took place with seven players.

Corwin, Sally H. Through better security techniques as well as the Binion's tireless promotion through events like the WSOP, poker became a very popular game. Alderks, Alsoph H. Prior to the 1970s, poker was not found at many casinos because of the difficulty of keeping cheaters out. Craig, O.H. The Binion family not only nurtured the WSOP, but poker in general. Secretary of the Army, are Harry L. The set of tournaments the World Series of Poker (WSOP) would evolve to was the brainchild of Las Vegas legend, casino owner, and poker player Benny Binion as well as his two sons Jack and Ted.

The inventors named in US Patent 3,060,165 (granted October 23, 1962) "Preparation of Toxic Ricin", assigned to the U.S. The original World Series of Poker was started by Tom Morehead of the Riverside casino in Reno and was an invitational event. The process for creating ricin is well-known, in part because a patent was granted for it in 1952. . Ricin is actually several orders of magnitude less toxic than botulinum or tetanus toxins, but those are more difficult to obtain. The World Series of Poker is the most prestigious set of poker tournaments in the world. The major reason it is dangerous is that there is no specific antidote, and that it is very easy to obtain (the castor bean plant is a common ornamental, and can be grown at home without any special care).

Presumably it could be sealed inside some sort of dust particle that would dissolve in water, but this would be difficult. Since it acts as an enzyme, catalyzing destruction of ribosomes, even a single oxidation is likely to render the ricin molecule harmless. Pure ricin could be dispersed through the air, however it would tend to be oxidized and rendered harmless by ozone, nitrogen oxides, and other pollutants in a matter of hours. (Jan van Aken, an expert on biological weapons explained in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel that he judges it rather reassuring that Al Qaeda experimented with ricin as it suggests their inability to produce botulin or anthrax.).

Ricin denatures (ie, the protein changes structure and becomes less dangerous) much more readily than anthrax spores, which may remain lethal for decades. Ricin is easy to produce, but is not as practical nor likely to cause as high casualities as other agents. Hence, a military willing to use biological weapons and having advanced resources would rather use either of the latter instead. To put ricin used as weapon into perspective, it is worth noting that as a biological weapon or chemical weapon, ricin may be considered as not very powerful, if only in comparison with other poisons such as botulinum or anthrax.

In August of 2002, US officials asserted that the Islamic militant group Ansar al-Islam tested ricin, along with other chemical and biological agents, in northern Iraq. Despite this, more than 1 million metric tonnes of castor beans are processed each year, and approximately 5% of the total is rendered into a waste containing high concentrations of ricin toxin [4]. Under both the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention and the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, ricin is listed as a schedule 1 controlled substance. Despite ricin's extreme toxicity and utility as an agent of chemical/biological warfare, it is extremely difficult to limit the production of the toxin.

Thomas, Alexander Solzhenitsyn: A Century in His Life, 368-378). Earlier, Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn also suffered (but survived) ricin-like symptoms after a 1971 encounter with KGB agents (D.M. He died in hospital a few days later; the pellet was discovered by chance during an autopsy and the poison linked back to the KGB. In 1978, the Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov was assassinated by Bulgarian secret police who surreptitiously 'shot' him on a London street with a modified umbrella using compressed gas to fire a tiny pellet contaminated with ricin into his leg.

The best-known documented use of ricin as an agent of biological warfare was by the Soviet Union's KGB during the Cold War. Ricin was given the military symbol W. This conclusion was based on comparison of the final weapons rather than ricin's toxicity (LD50 <30 mg.min.m–3). Though there were plans for mass production and several field trials with different bomblet concepts, the end conclusion was that it was no more economical than using phosgene.

During the Second World War the United States and Canada undertook studying ricin in cluster bombs. The War ended before it was weaponized. The dust cloud concept could not be adequately developed, and researchers believed the coated bullet/shrapnel concept was unethical. At that time it was being considered for use either as a toxic dust or coated bullets and shrapnel.

The United States investigated ricin for its military potential during the First World War. Use of ricin as an adjuvant has potential implications for developing mucosal vaccines. A promising approach is also to use the non-toxic B subunit as a vehicle for delivering antigens into cells thus greatly increasing their immunogenicity. Genetic modification of ricin is believed to be possible to lessen its toxicity to humans, but not to the cancer cells.

Ricin could be linked to a monoclonal antibody to target malignant cells recognized by the antibody. Ricin may have therapeutic use in the treatment of cancer. In the United states, a person caught manufacturing or possessing ricin may be sentenced up to 30 years in prison. As little as one castor bean, about 0.5 grams, may be fatal in a child.

Since 0.2 mg of purified Ricin constitutes a fatal dose, this is a considerable amount of ricin. The seed-pulp left over from pressing for castor oil contains on average about 5% by weight of ricin. Ricin is easily purified from castor-oil manufacturing waste. Since people do not get sick from eating large amounts of such products, ricin A is of extremely low toxicity if and only if the B chain is not present..

Many plants such as barley have the A chain but not the B chain. Ricin consists of two distinct protein chains (almost 30kDa each) that are linked to each other by disulfide bond:. Typically 2.5–20 raw seeds can kill an adult human; 4 a rabbit, 5 a sheep, 6 an ox, 6 a horse, 7 a pig, 11 a dog, but 80 for cocks and ducks.[3]. [2].

Although one seed contains enough ricin to kill an adult human, they may pass harmlessly through the digestive system if swallowed whole. Modern feed-making techniques break down the ricin in castor beans by heating at 140 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes, although some studies suggest that residual toxic effects may linger. Although the castor bean plant has long been noted for its toxicity, ricin was first isolated and named in 1888 by Hermann Stillmark. (See abrin).

Ingested in larger doses, ricin causes severe diarrhea and victims can die of shock. In small doses, such as the typical dose contained in a measure of castor oil, ricin causes digestive tract cramps. Long term organ damage is likely in survivors. There is no known antidote; only symptomatic and supportive treatment is available.

Ricin is poisonous if inhaled, injected, or ingested, acting as a toxin by the inhibition of protein synthesis. . It is considered to be twice as deadly as cobra venom. Ricin can be extracted from castor beans and is known to have an average lethal dose in humans of 0.2 milligrams (1/5,000th of a gram), though some sources give higher figures [1].

Its name comes from the seed's resemblance to the tick. The protein ricin (pronounced rye-sin) is a poison manufactured from the castor bean (Ricinus communis). Ricin B is important in assisting ricin A's entry into a cell by binding with a cell surface component. Ricin A is toxic to the cell by interfering with Ribosomes, responsible for protein synthesis.

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