The chuckle was because the authors had, as always happens, begun by stating ‘Ricin is reported to be a bioterrorism agent’. If you follow the link, above, to the plant page, you’ll see a long list of blog entries about ricin most of which explain that ricin has never been a bioterrorism weapon though it was, once, used as a murder weapon.
I just hope that when people trot out this nonsense in the introduction to their papers it is not an example of how lacking in rigour is the body of the work especially since it was the substance of the paper that made me laugh out loud.
Although there is no evidence that ricin has ever been used in a bioterror attack, the US government has spent, and continues to spend, many millions of dollars on funding research aimed at producing both a vaccine against ricin and an antidote. I’ve said that this is money wasted but this new paper demonstrates just how wasteful that spending is.
I’d better say this was a report of laboratory studies so it is too early to extrapolate its findings to humans.
What the authors discovered was that the action of ricin could be frustrated by the presence of milk.
I repeat the caveat that this was a laboratory experiment and there has been no work done to see if the observed action applies in live animals of any sort but the idea that the way to counter the fictional threat from ingested ricin deployed by terrorists is not to have stocks of hugely expensive antidote available but just to have a nice glass of milk made me laugh.
1.Milk Inhibits the Biological Activity of Ricin The Journal of Biological Chemistry 25th June 2012