Ricin Vaccine Saf
February 1, 2006 7:52 AM   Subscribe

Human trials show ricin vaccine is safe. For those that don't know ricin is a very potent poison that can be made from castor beans. Details of medical effects are available on Emedicine. Ricin was famously used in the murder of Georgi Markov. Research was done at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, TX.
posted by reverenddrjice (13 comments total)
How practical is this though?
posted by caddis at 8:01 AM on February 1, 2006

How practical is this though?

Stop asking questions and take your vaccine like a good American.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:04 AM on February 1, 2006

"Ricin is being investigated to see if it might form the basis of cancer treatments because it can kill cells easily."

The idea would be to tag antibodies against cancer cells with ricin and selectively destroy those cells. Easier said than done.
posted by reverenddrjice at 8:15 AM on February 1, 2006

How practical is this though?

Practicality isn't the issue. The motivation behind this research was the desire to use ricin in cancer treatment, because it kills cells easily.

What fascinates me is the notion of antibodies against a toxin. I thought antibodies were only about countering invading organisms.
posted by Goofyy at 8:17 AM on February 1, 2006

Antibodies have been used again toxins for a long time. If you get bitten by a poisonous snake, you will get "anti-venom" aka antibodies to that venom. This is usually produced by injecting animals with a toxin, allowing them to make the antibodies and then filtering it out of their blood.
posted by reverenddrjice at 8:27 AM on February 1, 2006

I didn't know you could have a vaccine against a poison. And why would I want to take this? Not very many people have been killed by this. If someone really wants to get you, there are many other ways to do this.
posted by jeblis at 8:27 AM on February 1, 2006

Goofyy, antibodies don't correspond to invading oragnisms, but rather, to very small portions of them (called epitopes).
posted by rxrfrx at 8:31 AM on February 1, 2006

It sounds like you would only have to take this once, and then you would be immune, it seems kind of pointless on it's own, but you could then give ricin to people and it would only kill cancer cells, at least that's the hope.

Does the human immune system not protect cancer cells as well, though?
posted by delmoi at 8:38 AM on February 1, 2006

It gets complicated, but the immune system will form antibodies to cancer cells in many cases. However, cancer cells have "evolved" mechanisms to evade those defenses and, additonally, sometimes the growth rate simply exceeds the kill rate. This is oversimplified and generalized..clearly different cancer types do different things.
posted by reverenddrjice at 8:43 AM on February 1, 2006

I don't see your distinction. Epitopes are the specific antigenic protein on an organism that anitbodies are formed against. Since they are organism specific, you can say you are forming antibodies againt this organism in forming antibodies against portions of it. This AB formation leads to the killing of that organism...
posted by reverenddrjice at 8:47 AM on February 1, 2006

I feel quite strongly it's wrong for governments to poison their citizens.

In the case of assassination, they are denied due process. In the case of lethal injection, they are denied their right to life.
posted by nervousfritz at 9:11 AM on February 1, 2006

I didn't know you could have a vaccine against a poison.

Am I right in guessing that it's the toxins being made of or derived from proteins that lets you go after them with antibodies?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:26 AM on February 1, 2006

I don't see your distinction.

Goofyy didn't understand how an antibody could be raised to a specific compound, apparently thinking that antibodies responded to whole organisms. I was making the point clear that it's not really an organism that's antigenic, but rather the constituent parts of that organism, a toxin being one of those parts.
posted by rxrfrx at 9:41 AM on February 1, 2006

« Older Ninja-Man   |   Don't screw with Keith Richards Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments