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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. Estes Industries currently offers several flying model rockets of SpaceShipOne. One of these is a sticker reading "With all-natural ricin!". SpaceShipOne became a popular model rocket in 2004. 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. A piece of SpaceShipOne's carbon fiber material was launched aboard the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt.[1]. Ricin was mentioned in the "call me the prankster" comic at toothpaste for dinner. However, it appears that Burt Rutan decided not to risk damage to the historic craft.

Ricin was used as the poison of choice of the murderer in the 1962 comedy film Kill or Cure. Future flights of SpaceShipOne are no longer anticipated to occur, however an extensive flight program was originally envisioned to proceed after the X2 flight, before retirement to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. 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. Louis and the Bell X-1. Several Senate office buildings were closed as a precaution. It was unveiled on Wednesday October 5, 2005 in the Milestones of Flight gallery and is now on display to the public in the main atrium between the Spirit of St. There were no signs that anyone who was near the contaminated area developed any medical problems. After the airshow, the aircraft was flown to the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum to be put on display.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's office. On July 25, 2005 SpaceShipOne landed at the Oshkosh Airshow in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. 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. SpaceShipOne's spaceflights have been watched by large crowds at Mojave Spaceport. Investigators said it was low potency and was not considered a health risk. Designation sequence: SpaceShipOne — SpaceShipTwo — SpaceShipThree. The letter contained a fine powdery substance that later tested positive for ricin. Comparable aircraft:.

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. Related development: Scaled Composites SpaceShipTwo – Scaled Composites Model 318. in November of 2003. **Most info from astronautix.com. Ricin was detected in the mail at the White House in Washington, D.C. This is not an absolute speed. All others accused in connection with the Wood Green flat were acquitted on all counts. In the table below, the "top speed" reported is the Mach number at burn-out (the end of the rocket burn).

He was also jailed for life following a conviction for murdering the Special Branch policeman who went to arrest him. If the actual flight differs in category from the intended flight, two letters are appended: the first indicating the intended mission and the second the mission actually performed. 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". An appended C indicates that the flight was a captive carry, G indicates an unpowered glide, and P indicates a powered flight. 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]. One or two letters are appended to the number to indicate the type of mission. On February 5, 2003, U.S. Flights of SpaceShipOne are numbered, starting with flight 01 on May 20, 2003.

A number of men who were apparently living at the mosque were arrested. They have qualified to fly SpaceShipOne by training on the Tier One flight simulator and in White Knight and other Scaled Composites aircraft. 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. Melvill is a test pilot, Binnie was a Navy pilot, and Shane and Siebold are engineers at Scaled Composites. A Special Branch policeman, DC Stephen Oake, was fatally stabbed during the arrests, and three other officers were also injured, one seriously. The astronauts come from a variety of aerospace backgrounds. 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. The SpaceShipOne pilots are:.

They were not convicted of any poisons related crime. Ansari X Prize flights followed, with flight 17P on October 4, 2004, winning the prize. Six more suspects were arrested in Bournemouth in England in connection with the investigation into the alleged ricin incident in London. Flight 15P on June 21, 2004, was SpaceShipOne's first spaceflight, and the first privately funded human spaceflight. 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. On June 17, 2004, Mojave Airport reclassified itself (part-time) as the Mojave Spaceport. Further analysis identified the material as ground wheat germ. This license permits the company to conduct powered test flights for one year.

A little later several arrests were made in France and a bottle of something that tested positive for ricin was found. On April 1, 2004, Scaled Composites received the first license for sub-orbital rocket flights to be issued by the US Department of Transportation. It appears that an individual conducting amateur research on poisons was found in this raid. The first powered flight, flight 11P, was made on December 17, 2003, the 100th anniversary of the first powered flight. Some acetone, 22 castor beans, and poor recipes for ricin and other poisons copied from the Internet were found. Glide tests followed, starting with flight 03G on August 7, 2003. 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]. SpaceShipOne's first flight, 01C, was an unmanned captive carry flight test on May 20, 2003.

Media reports stated that a group was suspected of intending to use the poison in an attack on the London Underground. All of its flights have been from the Mojave Airport Civilian Flight Test Center. 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. N328KF is registered as a glider, reflecting the fact that most of its independent flight is unpowered. An aerosol powder may be prepared by spray drying or air grinding the purified ricin using cold air. The original choice of registry number, N100KM, was already taken. The final ricin precipitate is dried and then purified by floatation in carbon tetrachloride. 'N' is the prefix for US-registered aircraft; '328KF' was chosen by Scaled Composites to stand for 328000 (k{ilo}) feet (about 100 kilometers, the officially designated edge of space).

The precipitated ricin may be reextracted once to further purify it. SpaceShipOne is registered with the FAA as N328KF. After precipitation, the crude ricin cake is washed with a 16.7% solution of sodium sulfate to remove extranious nitrogenous substances. . 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. During its testing regime, SpaceShipOne set a number of important "firsts", including first privately-funded aircraft to exceed Mach 2 and Mach 3, first privately-funded spacecraft to exceed 100km altitude and first privately-funded reusable spacecraft. Ricin is initially extracted from defatted castor beans by aquous extraction at pH 3.8 to yield a leachate containing solubilized ricin. New funding comes from British tycoon Richard Branson, who is to fund the successor SpaceShipTwo for his new company Virgin Galactic through a 21 million US$ deal.

Modern extraction plants might use membrane filtration to make highly purified ricin isolates. Development costs were estimated to be $25-million, funded largely by Paul Allen. The extraction of ricin from castor beans is very similar to the prepartion of soy protein isolates. On June 21, 2004, it made the first privately-funded human spaceflight, and on October 4, it won the $10-million Ansari X Prize, by reaching 100 kilometers in altitude twice in a two-week period with the equivalent of three people on board, with no more than ten percent of the non-fuel weight of the spacecraft replaced between flights. 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. SpaceShipOne was developed by Scaled Composites, Burt Rutan's aviation company, in their Tier One program, without government funding. Dieke, and Charlotte Karel. Accelerating a spacecraft to orbital speed requires more than 30 times as much energy as lifting it to 100 km.

Corwin, Sally H. The achievements of SpaceShipOne are more comparable to the X-15 than orbiting spacecraft like the Space Shuttle. Alderks, Alsoph H. The design features a unique "shuttlecock" reentry system whose half-delta wing folds upward at the center of its twin tail booms; this increases drag while remaining stable. Craig, O.H. The Scaled Composites Model 316 SpaceShipOne is an experimental air-launched suborbital spaceplane that uses a hybrid rocket motor. Secretary of the Army, are Harry L. Flight 18P of SpaceShipOne was a spaceflight in the Tier One program that was anticipated to take place on October 13, 2004.

The inventors named in US Patent 3,060,165 (granted October 23, 1962) "Preparation of Toxic Ricin", assigned to the U.S. Thrust-to-Weight: 20 N/kg. The process for creating ricin is well-known, in part because a patent was granted for it in 1952. Wing loading: 240 kg/m². Ricin is actually several orders of magnitude less toxic than botulinum or tetanus toxins, but those are more difficult to obtain. Rate of climb: 25,000 m/min. 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). Service ceiling: 112,000 m.

Presumably it could be sealed inside some sort of dust particle that would dissolve in water, but this would be difficult. Range: 65 km. Since it acts as an enzyme, catalyzing destruction of ribosomes, even a single oxidation is likely to render the ricin molecule harmless. Maximum speed: Mach 3.09 (3,518 km/h). 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. Isp: 250 s (2.5 km/s) Burn time: 87 seconds. (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.). Powerplant: 1x N2O/HTPB SpaceDev Hybrid Solid rocket engine, 7,500 kgf (74 kN) thrust.

Ricin denatures (ie, the protein changes structure and becomes less dangerous) much more readily than anthrax spores, which may remain lethal for decades. Maximum takeoff:. Ricin is easy to produce, but is not as practical nor likely to cause as high casualities as other agents. Loaded: 3,600 kg. Hence, a military willing to use biological weapons and having advanced resources would rather use either of the latter instead. Empty: 1,200 kg. 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. Wing area: 15 m².

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. Core Diameter: 1.52 m. 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]. Height:. Under both the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention and the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, ricin is listed as a schedule 1 controlled substance. Wingspan: 5 m. 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. Length: 5 m.

Thomas, Alexander Solzhenitsyn: A Century in His Life, 368-378). Crew: one pilot (capable of taking 3). Earlier, Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn also suffered (but survived) ricin-like symptoms after a 1971 encounter with KGB agents (D.M. Peter Siebold. 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. Doug Shane. 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. Mike Melvill.

The best-known documented use of ricin as an agent of biological warfare was by the Soviet Union's KGB during the Cold War. Brian Binnie. 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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