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Einstein researchers devise a fast and sensitive way to detect ricin
Date:4/8/2009

attack causes ribosomal RNA to release a molecule of adenine. Dr. Schramm's assay detects and quantifies ricin by measuring the amount of adenine released by cells.

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

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

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


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Contact: Chris Iannantuoni
ciannant@aecom.yu.edu
718-430-8806
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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