Ricin poisoning may one day be treatable with new antidote | Science News



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Ricin poisoning may one day be treatable with new antidote

Blend of antibodies could neutralize toxic effects, tests in mice show

10:02am, February 10, 2017
castor beans

DANGEROUS BEANS  The potent toxin ricin is found in castor beans (shown). No antidote exists for ricin poisoning, but a new antibody treatment that’s effective in mice could potentially help.

WASHINGTON — It has been used by an assassin wielding a poisoned umbrella and sent in a suspicious letter to a president.

Ricin, the potent toxin and bioterrorism agent, has no antidote and can cause death within days. But a cocktail of antibodies could one day offer victims at least a slim window for treatment.

A new study presented February 7 at the American Society for Microbiology’s Biothreats meeting reveals a ricin antidote that, in mice, works even days after exposure to the toxin. Another presented study offers a potential explanation for how such an antidote might work.

Doctors need some way to deal with ricin poisoning, said Patrick Cherubin, a cell biologist at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. Immunologist Nicholas Mantis agreed: “There is no specific

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