Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
Enhanced Enzyme May Defeat Nerve Agent, Scientists Say
Scientists believe that a naturally occurring enzyme the body uses for detoxification can be strengthened to a level at which it can fight the effects of exposure to a lethal nerve agent, the Press Association reported on Thursday (see GSN, March 13).
The liver protein paraoxonase 1 through a process of enhancement demonstrated a 3,400-boost in its capacity to break apart nerve agent particles, scientists wrote in an article for the journal Chemistry & Biology.
The goal is to create a medical countermeasure that can be used in sarin agent attacks.
Head researcher Moshe Goldsmith of the Weizmann Institute in Israel, said: "The sarin attack in Tokyo in 1995 demonstrated that both the raw materials and know-how of producing deadly nerve agents are available to people outside government or military institutions. We hope that our work would provide a prophylactic drug that will effectively protect the medical, police, and other teams that will have to act in a contaminated area following such an attack and would also provide these teams with a drug that could be administered on-site to intoxicated individuals to greatly improve their chances of survival" (John von Radowitz, Press Association/Google News, April 19).