Gene found that counteracts ricin's effects

A team of scientists led by Dr. Ulrich Elling of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna has discovered a gene that counteracts the effects of ricin, a deadly poison developed from castor beans.
Experiments on mouse cells found that those without a certain protein, Gpr107, were immune to the lethal effects of the toxin. The discovery was made using a revolutionary technology combining modern screening methods with stem cell biology, the Daily Mail reports.
The researchers simultaneously tested the poison in thousands of mouse stem cells and discovered that it was ineffective on cells without the Gpr107 protein.
"The possible uses of this discovery are endless," Josef Penninger, the co-author of the study, said, according to the Daily Mail. "They range from fundamental issues, like which genes are necessary for the proper function of a heart muscle cell, to concrete applications as we have done in the case of ricin toxicity."
The discovery follows a warning in August that al-Qaeda was producing ricin-containing bombs to attack airports, shopping centers and train stations. The toxin has had a gruesome reputation as a bioweapon because even a tiny amount can kill a person within two to three days after getting into the bloodstream. Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian dissident and BBC correspondent, died in 1978 when a stranger shot a ricin-laced pellet into his leg using a modified umbrella.