Ricin toxin is a threatening agent with significance in global warfare. Scientists have been working in the development of several distinct analytical methods for the detection of toxin with improved sensitivity and specificity but they still tend to suffer from critical limitations especially under circumstances when direct immuno probe based protein toxin profiling was made in complex biochemical samples including food stuffs that resulted in ambiguities.It stood as one of the fundamental reasons which has diverted researchers to concentrate on genetic profiling of toxin in samples for precise interpretation.
US scientists have now developed a technique called real time PCR which targets the genetic material in samples.They applied a genetic probe specific for the toxin in DNA samples isolated from milk and egg for generating a fingerprint.Experimental results showed that their probe functioned relatively well and was able to detect toxin at concentrations of 5ng per ml of milk or liquid egg.It was also reported that negative interferences from the samples were obvious but researchers were quite content with the level of detection of sub-lethal doses of toxin in biological fluids.
It is interesting to watch technique such as this since the analysts were targetting the core biomolecule,DNA which permitted them to reduce the chemical complexity of samples by fractionation for convenient profiling. Nevertheless it is vital to note that advanced PCR systems are expensive and prone for producing artifacts, also demanding for skills in the preparation of quality samples and optimization of probes in the detection of multiple variants of ricin DNA from the genomic pools of biological sources standing at different loci.
For reference: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf0707738