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Army Starts Clinical Trials On Ricin Vaccine

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — The Army says it’s starting clinical trials at Fort Detrick on a potential ricin vaccine.

The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases said Wednesday there currently are no federally approved countermeasures to ricin.

The deadly toxin derived from castor beans is considered a significant biological warfare or terrorism threat.

Two civilian scientists at the Army laboratory in Frederick first reported in 2004 on a vaccine candidate they developed through molecular modeling and protein engineering. It has been proven effective in lab animals and is now being tested on 30 human volunteers.

Ricin can cause respiratory failure within 72 hours when inhaled. It is also deadly when swallowed.

A British white supremacist pleaded guilty last year to producing ricin and preparing for acts of terrorism.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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