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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. Bruce Hampton & The Code Talkers, Particle, Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains, moe., Corey Harris, Ween, North Mississippi Allstars, Vinroc, Z-Trip, Mofro, Gabe Dixon, Norah Jones, Campbell Brothers, Dottie Peoples, Blind Boys of Alabama. One of these is a sticker reading "With all-natural ricin!". Widespread Panic, Phil Lesh and Friends w/ very special guest Bob Weir, Galactic, Trey Anastasio, Béla Fleck & Edgar Meyer, DJ Logic, Les Claypool's Flying Frog Brigade, Amon Tobin, Old Crow Medicine Show, Soulive, Gov't Mule, Jim White, Umphrey's McGee, Gran Torino, The Big Wu, Donna the Buffalo, Acoustic Syndicate, Keller Willams Incident, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, Ben Harper, Cut Chemist, String Cheese Incident, John Butler Trio, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Jack Johnson, Jurassic 5, The Del Mcoury Band, Drums & Tuba, Lil' Rascals Brass Band, Disco Biscuits, LLama, Col. 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. In the inagural year, the festival was held June 21-23, and more than 70,000 fans attended. Ricin was mentioned in the "call me the prankster" comic at toothpaste for dinner. Love and Special Sauce, Tortoise, Liz Phair, Sound Tribe Sector 9, O.A.R., North Mississippi Allstars, Warren Haynes, Keller Williams, Garage A Trois, Ben Kweller, Mix Master Mike, Ekoostik Hookah, The Polyphonic Spree, Kid Koala, Z-Trip, Particle, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Josh Wink, Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, The Slip, Cyro Baptista's Beat the Donkey, DJ Spooky, Jerry Joseph & The Jackmormons, Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen, The New Deal, RJD2, My Morning Jacket, Topaz, phonosycograph DJ.DISK, DJ.Disk & The Filthy Ape, Vusi Mahlasela of Amandla!, Drive-By Truckers, Hackensaw Boys, Mark Farina, Robinella & the CC String Band, Buddahead, Kaki King, RAQ, Jason Mraz, The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players, Josh Kelley, Gavin Degraw, Indecision, Iouque, Rebirth Brass Band.

Ricin was used as the poison of choice of the murderer in the 1962 comedy film Kill or Cure. The Allman Brothers Band, The Dead, Widespread Panic, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, James Brown, Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals, Jack Johnson, moe., Galactic, The Flaming Lips, The Roots, Lucinda Williams, Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, Emmylou Harris, Medeski Martin & Wood, Sonic Youth, The Meters, Leo Kottke & Mike Gordon, Joshua Redman, Yonder Mountain String Band, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, The Wailers, Nickel Creek, G. 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. This festival, as well as the Field Day Festival, another festival to take place at the same site, were cancelled, however, in the weeks leading up to the event due to concern about securing permits in time. Several Senate office buildings were closed as a precaution. In The Bonnaroo organizers planned a festival called Bonnaroo Northeast to take place in Riverhead, Long Island, New York. There were no signs that anyone who was near the contaminated area developed any medical problems. The festival ran June 13-15, and 80,000 attended.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's office. The Spam Allstars, Umphrey's McGee, The X-ecutioners, Danger Mouse, Los Lobos, Hackensaw Boys, Kings of Leon, Blue Merle, Erin Mckeown, Acoustic Syndicate, Gomez, Grandaddy, Rachel Yamagata, Mindy Smith, Gov't Mule, My Morning Jacket, Del McCoury, Beth Orton, Robert Earl Keen, Iouque, Sam Bush Band, Steve Winwood, Galactic, Jem, Jazz Mandolin Project, Doc Watson, Damien Rice, Ween, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Cut Chemist, Cut Chemist presents Funky Sole, Burning Spear, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, Leftover Salmon, Marc Ribot y Los Cubanos Protizos, Marc Broussard, deSoL, Taj Mahal, The Bad Plus, Antigone Rising, Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven, Donavon Frankenreiter, moe., Femi Kuti, Barbara Cue, Soulive, Guster, Addison Groove Project, David Byrne, Medeski Martin & Wood, SuperJam, Material, The Radiators, Trey Anastasio. 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. Primus, The Dead, Los Lonely Boys, Calexico, mrnorth, New Monsoon, Xavier Rudd, Yonder Mountain String Band, Neko Case, The Black Keys, Simple Kid, JoJo & His Mojo Mardi Gras Band, Wilco, Ani DiFranco, North Mississippi Allstars, Patti Smith, Nellie McKay, MOFRO, Bob Dylan, String Cheese Incident, Chris Robinson & The New Earth Mud, Mike Doughty's Band, Gillian Welch, Yo La Tengo, Dave Matthews & Friends, Praxis, Vida Blue feat. Investigators said it was low potency and was not considered a health risk. Many vehicles had to be towed out of the parking area. The letter contained a fine powdery substance that later tested positive for ricin. The festival was marked by torrential rains, creating an incredibly large amount of mud.

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 festival ran June 11-13, and more than 90,000 people attended. in November of 2003. Dog, Motion Potion, DJ Quarter-Roy, DJ Medi4, DJ Quickie Mart, Animal Liberation Orchestra, Steel Train, SIIHB's. Ricin was detected in the mail at the White House in Washington, D.C. Les Claypool, Heartless Bastards, Josh Ritter, Kermit Ruffins and the Barbeque Singers, Signal Path, Keren Ann, Dr. All others accused in connection with the Wood Green flat were acquitted on all counts. Ward, Madeleine Peyroux, The Frames, DJ Krush, Assembly of Dust, Amos Lee, Matisyahu, Perpetual Groove, Tea Leaf Green, Lake Trout, 22-20s Gabby La La feat.

He was also jailed for life following a conviction for murdering the Special Branch policeman who went to arrest him. Mike Gordon, Joss Stone, Kings of Leon, De La Soul, O.A.R., Toots and the Maytals, Umphrey's McGee, Iron & Wine, Ozomatli, Rilo Kiley, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, Drive-By Truckers, Particle, Joanna Newsom, Peter Rowan & Crucial Reggae, Xavier Rudd, Ray LaMontagne, The Gourds, Blue Merle, Secret Machines, Saul Williams, Donna the Buffalo, Mouse on Mars, John Butler Trio, The Perceptionists, Ollabelle, Old Crow Medicine Show, RJD2, Citizen Cope, The Old '97s, Brazilian Girls, M. 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 Allman Brothers Band, Widespread Panic, Dave Matthews Band, Trey Anastasio, Jack Johnson, The Black Crowes, Alison Krauss, Modest Mouse, Ratdog, Herbie Hancock's Headhunters 2005, Gov't Mule, Béla Fleck Acoustic Trio, The Mars Volta, John Prine, Yonder Mountain String Band, Jurassic 5, The Word, Galactic, My Morning Jacket, Keller Williams, STS9, Earl Scruggs, Benevento-Russo Duo feat. 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]. Also, LiveBonnaroo.com made several artists' live sets available for download, including sets from The Black Crowes, My Morning Jacket and Widespread Panic. On February 5, 2003, U.S. Ray LaMontagne released a live EP of his Bonnaroo set, appropriately titled Ray LaMontagne Live From Bonnaroo.

A number of men who were apparently living at the mosque were arrested. Unlike 2004, rain marked each day of the festival. 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. There was a "comedy tent" featuring Jim Breuer as well as some lesser-known comedians and even daily yoga classes. A Special Branch policeman, DC Stephen Oake, was fatally stabbed during the arrests, and three other officers were also injured, one seriously. Wireless Internet access was provided by Cisco Systems. 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. New Line Cinema introduced a twenty-four-hour "cinema tent," showing popular and cult films.

They were not convicted of any poisons related crime. The festival ran from June 10-12, and more than 75,000 people were in attendance. Six more suspects were arrested in Bournemouth in England in connection with the investigation into the alleged ricin incident in London. Love & Special Sauce, My Morning Jacket, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Steel Pulse, Mike Gordon and Ramble Dove, Cat Power, Medeski Martin & Wood, Nickel Creek, Gomez, Atmosphere, Steve Earle, Blues Traveler, Amadou & Mariam, Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, The Dresden Dolls, Son Volt, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Jerry Douglas, Soulive, Rusted Root, Devendra Banhart Band, Donavon Frankenreiter, Mike Doughty, Sasha, [[Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, The Magic Numbers, Bill Frisell, Seu Jorge, Bettye LaVette, Dungen, Shooter Jennings, Rebirth Brass Band, Robinella, Andrew Bird, Steel Train, Jackie Greene, DeVotchKa, Wood Brothers, dios (malos), Toubab Krewe, The Motet, Marah, I-Nine, Balkan Beat Box, Cat Empire. 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. John, Matisyahu, G. Further analysis identified the material as ground wheat germ. Radiohead, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Phil Lesh & Friends, Beck, Elvis Costello & The Imposters, Bonnie Raitt, Death Cab for Cutie, moe., Bright Eyes, The Neville Brothers, Béla Fleck & the Flecktones, Buddy Guy, Damian Marley, Ben Folds, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Dr.

A little later several arrests were made in France and a bottle of something that tested positive for ricin was found. More artists to be announced with the line up estimated to be 80 plus artists. It appears that an individual conducting amateur research on poisons was found in this raid. Tickets for the 2006 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival will go on sale Saturday, February 11, at 10:00 AM Eastern Time through Bonnaroo.com. Some acetone, 22 castor beans, and poor recipes for ricin and other poisons copied from the Internet were found. The 2006 Bonnaroo Festival will be held June 16–June 18, 2006. 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]. The festival is reminiscent of popular music festivals like Woodstock & Isle Of Wight Festival.

Media reports stated that a group was suspected of intending to use the poison in an attack on the London Underground. The festival also features craftsman and artisans selling unique products, several food and drink vendors, and many other activities from various sponsors. 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 main attractions of the festival are the multiple stages of live music, featuring mostly jam bands (categorized as progressive fusion), but also including hip hop and other alternative music. An aerosol powder may be prepared by spray drying or air grinding the purified ricin using cold air. The festival is held on a 700 acre (2.4 km²) farm in Manchester, Tennessee, 60 miles southeast of Nashville, Tennessee. The final ricin precipitate is dried and then purified by floatation in carbon tetrachloride. The Bonnaroo Music Festival, Bonnaroo or 'Roo for short, is an annual rock festival by Superfly Productions and AC Entertainment, first held in 2002.

The precipitated ricin may be reextracted once to further purify it. . After precipitation, the crude ricin cake is washed with a 16.7% solution of sodium sulfate to remove extranious nitrogenous substances. Leo's Bonnaroo Survival Guide. 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. LiveBonnaroo.com, which offers artist-approved downloads of live recordings, as well as photos and souvenirs. Ricin is initially extracted from defatted castor beans by aquous extraction at pH 3.8 to yield a leachate containing solubilized ricin. Bonnaroo.com, official website.

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

Corwin, Sally H. Alderks, Alsoph H. Craig, O.H. Secretary of the Army, are Harry L.

The inventors named in US Patent 3,060,165 (granted October 23, 1962) "Preparation of Toxic Ricin", assigned to the U.S. 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 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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