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Keywords:

  • biothreat;
  • castor;
  • electrochemiluminescence;
  • monoclonal antibody;
  • ricin

Abstract:  A monoclonal antibody-based electrochemical luminescence method was developed for detecting and quantifying ricin in liquid egg, with a limit of detection of 0.2 ng/mL. Because this highly toxic protein, present in the seeds of Ricinus communis (castor), has been used for intentional poisoning in the past, it is important to have sensitive and reliable analytical methodology to detect ricin in food matrices such as liquid egg. The detection of this quantity of pure or crude ricin spiked into commercial samples of liquid egg provides approximately 50000-fold greater sensitivity than required to detect a toxic dose of ricin (>1 mg) in a 100 g sample.

Practical Application:  Because ricin has been used for intentional poisoning, there is a need for analytical methodology to detect ricin in food matrices to assure a safe food supply. Using monoclonal antibodies to ricin developed in our laboratory, we explored an assay readout system known as electrochemiluminescence. This technique afforded sensitive and specific analysis of ricin intentionally added to liquid egg and could potentially be used to monitor egg-based vaccine production.