Ricin is a lethal cytotoxin present abundantly in castor seed.People have identified the protein way back but no effective, timely sensitive antidote or assay kit has ever been formulated so far.However advancements in protein technology have rendered a solution today through application of an advanced mass spectrometry for the detection of ricin, called as Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization Mass spectrometry(MALDI-MS).It is extensively applied for detection of proteins which are unknown and whose magnitude is difficult to determine by conventional resolution principles.
Australian scientists tried to exploit it in the context of ricin chemistry and have prepared a polymorphic peptide mass fingerprint of ricin and its related proteins following an initial treatment with trypsin.They were excited to watch the extent of protein resolution by MALDI-MS in purified and crude preparations of ricin from castor seeds without ambiguity. Scientists further claimed that their protocol has scope for improvements and consumes minimal time to probe the presence of toxin from sample preparations.
MALDI-MS proved its utility in toxin chemistry of proteins as a valuable tool and will expand its wing to conquer new protein niches in biology.
For reading: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20486671