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Simon S.,CEA Saclay Nuclear Research Center | Worbs S.,Robert Koch Institute | Avondet M.A.,Civil Protection and SportSpiez Laboratory | Tracz D.M.,Public Health Agency of Canada | And 6 more authors.

Ricin, a toxin from the plant Ricinus communis, is one of the most toxic biological agents known. Due to its availability, toxicity, ease of production and absence of curative treatments, ricin has been classified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as category B biological weapon and it is scheduled as a List 1 compound in the Chemical Weapons Convention. An international proficiency test (PT) was conducted to evaluate detection and quantification capabilities of 17 expert laboratories. In this exercise one goal was to analyse the laboratories’ capacity to detect and differentiate ricin and the less toxic, but highly homologuous protein R. communis agglutinin (RCA120). Six analytical strategies are presented in this paper based on immunological assays (four immunoenzymatic assays and two immunochromatographic tests). Using these immunological methods “dangerous” samples containing ricin and/or RCA120 were successfully identified. Based on different antibodies used the detection and quantification of ricin and RCA120 was successful. The ricin PT highlighted the performance of different immunological approaches that are exemplarily recommended for highly sensitive and precise quantification of ricin. © 2015 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Source

Weisemann J.,Toxogen Gmbh | Krez N.,Toxogen Gmbh | Fiebig U.,Robert Koch Institute | Worbs S.,Robert Koch Institute | And 16 more authors.

The detection and identification of botulinum neurotoxins (BoNT) is complex due to the existence of seven serotypes, derived mosaic toxins and more than 40 subtypes. Expert laboratories currently use different technical approaches to detect, identify and quantify BoNT, but due to the lack of (certified) reference materials, analytical results can hardly be compared. In this study, the six BoNT/A1–F1 prototypes were successfully produced by recombinant techniques, facilitating handling, as well as improving purity, yield, reproducibility and biosafety. All six BoNTs were quantitatively nicked into active di-chain toxins linked by a disulfide bridge. The materials were thoroughly characterized with respect to purity, identity, protein concentration, catalytic and biological activities. For BoNT/A1, B1 and E1, serotypes pathogenic to humans, the catalytic activity and the precise protein concentration were determined by Endopep-mass spectrometry and validated amino acid analysis, respectively. In addition, BoNT/A1, B1, E1 and F1 were successfully detected by immunological assays, unambiguously identified by mass spectrometric-based methods, and their specific activities were assigned by the mouse LD50 bioassay. The potencies of all six BoNT/A1–F1 were quantified by the ex vivo mouse phrenic nerve hemidiaphragm assay, allowing a direct comparison. In conclusion, highly pure recombinant BoNT reference materials were produced, thoroughly characterized and employed as spiking material in a worldwide BoNT proficiency test organized by the EQuATox consortium. © 2015 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Source

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