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Originally posted by Gryffen
US scientists have developed a vaccine for an inhaled form of the lethal toxin Ricin.
Lectins (from the Latin legate, to pick or choose) were first identified in 1888 by Stillmark at the University of Dorpat in Estonia. While investigating the toxic effects on blood of castor bean extract (Ricinus communis) he noticed that the red cells were being agglutinated. He isolated the material responsible for the agglutination and called it ricin. Shortly afterward at the same university Helfin discovered that the toxic extract of the seed Abrus precatoris also caused cells to clump together. This new agglutinin was called abrin. This immediately caught the attention of the German bacteriologist Ehrlich who recognized that he could investigate certain immunologic problems with them rather than the then popular bacterial toxins. With these two agglutinins some of the most basic principles of immunology were discovered, such as antibody specificity and species specificity. In 1908 Landsteiner reported that small amounts of lentil lectin would agglutinate rabbit erythrocytes, even high concentrations of the lectin had no effect on pigeon red cells.