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The protein ricin is a toxin from the castor bean (Ricinus communis). Ricin can be extracted from castor beans and is known to have an average lethal dose in humans of 0.2 milligrams (1/5,000th of a gram), though some sources give higher figures. It is considered to be twice as deadly as cobra venom. The 2007 Guinness World Records Book considers ricin the world's most potent plant toxin.
Ricins may have therapeutic use in the treatment of cancer. Ricin could be linked to a monoclonal antibody to target malignant cells recognized by the antibody. Genetic modification of ricin is believed to be possible to lessen its toxicity to humans, but not to the cancer cells. A promising approach is also to use the non-toxic B subunit as a vehicle for delivering antigens into cells thus greatly increasing their immunogenicity. Use of ricin as an adjuvant has potential implications for developing mucosal vaccines.
Therapeutically, ricin is used in magic bullets to specifically target and destroy cancer cells.