Researchers create ricin testing kit

Defense scientists from Singapore and Australia unveiled the world's first human test kit for highly poisonous ricin last week during a symposium on toxic substances.

Biomedical scientists from DSO National Laboratories, Singapore's largest defense research body, presented the kit in Singapore on Thursday, the Straits Times reports.

Current ricin tests can only detect ricin contamination in the environment. The new test requires just two drops of blood or feces to detect the ricin toxin.

"The diagnostic window of between four hours and five days also makes it easier to catch the contamination more effectively," Chen Hsiao Ying, a biomedical scientist at DSO, said, according to the Straits Times.

Ying said that detecting ricin in humans is a challenge because ricin symptoms show up in everyday ailments like fever, cough and diarrhea.

The Australian Defense Science and Technology Organization partnered with DSO to develop the kit. The organizations anticipate that the test will be on the market within the next two years.

DSO scientists presented the innovative test during the Singapore International Symposium On Protection Against Toxic Substances. The event runs in conjunction with the third International, Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Explosives Operations Conference.

Singapore's Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen said that bioterrorism attacks such as ricin poisoning ignore national boundaries, the Straits Times reports.

"Total protection is not feasible as threats from natural disasters are often unforeseen and the intent of terrorists is often to maim or kill in crowded public places," Ng said, according to the Straits Times.