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Surprising Science

Ricin Antidote

An anti-toxin that protects people against ricin poisoning is about to go into production for the first time.

An anti-toxin which can protect humans against three times the known lethal dosage of the poison ricin is to go into production for the first time. The anti-dote can be administered to poisoned patients up to 24 hours after exposure to the substance. Ricin, which is thought to be roughly 1,000 times more lethal than cyanide, has been widely talked of by security experts as a potential weapon in biological terror attacks. The anti-toxin has been developed after 8 years of intense research by British scientists based in Porton Down in Wiltshire. “In the past there has been lots of research carried out using different methods. But this is the first [anti-toxin] that has been moved into production,” says Dr Jane Dr Holley, principal scientist in biomedical sciences at DSTL. “It is anticipated that a product will be available for use in the next couple of years,” she added.


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