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Toxins 2015, 7(12), 4987-5010; doi:10.3390/toxins7124859

An International Proficiency Test to Detect, Identify and Quantify Ricin in Complex Matrices

Biological Toxins, Centre for Biological Threats and Special Pathogens, Robert Koch Institute, Seestrasse 10, 13353 Berlin, Germany
Joint Research Centre, Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements, European Commission, Retieseweg 111, 2440 Geel, Belgium
ChemStat, Aarstrasse 98, 3005 Bern, Switzerland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Daniel Gillet
Received: 14 October 2015 / Revised: 8 November 2015 / Accepted: 16 November 2015 / Published: 26 November 2015
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [2909 KB, uploaded 26 November 2015]   |  


While natural intoxications with seeds of Ricinus communis (R. communis) have long been known, the toxic protein ricin contained in the seeds is of major concern since it attracts attention of those intending criminal, terroristic and military misuse. In order to harmonize detection capabilities in expert laboratories, an international proficiency test was organized that aimed at identifying good analytical practices (qualitative measurements) and determining a consensus concentration on a highly pure ricin reference material (quantitative measurements). Sample materials included highly pure ricin as well as the related R. communis agglutinin (RCA120) spiked into buffer, milk and meat extract; additionally, an organic fertilizer naturally contaminated with R. communis shred was investigated in the proficiency test. The qualitative results showed that either a suitable combination of immunological, mass spectrometry (MS)-based and functional approaches or sophisticated MS-based approaches alone successfully allowed the detection and identification of ricin in all samples. In terms of quantification, it was possible to determine a consensus concentration of the highly pure ricin reference material. The results provide a basis for further steps in quality assurance and improve biopreparedness in expert laboratories worldwide. View Full-Text
Keywords: proficiency test; ricin; reference material; standardized detection proficiency test; ricin; reference material; standardized detection

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Worbs, S.; Skiba, M.; Bender, J.; Zeleny, R.; Schimmel, H.; Luginbühl, W.; Dorner, B.G. An International Proficiency Test to Detect, Identify and Quantify Ricin in Complex Matrices. Toxins 2015, 7, 4987-5010.

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