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Prehosp Disaster Med. 2003 Oct-Dec;18(4):306-12.

The threat of mid-spectrum chemical warfare agents.

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Norwegian Defence Research Establishment, Kjeller, Norway.


There is a spectrum of several threat agents, ranging from nerve agents and mustard agents to natural substances, such as biotoxins and new, synthetic, bioactive molecules produced by the chemical industry, to the classical biological warfare agents. The new, emerging threat agents are biotoxins produced by animals, plants, fungi, and bacteria. Examples of such biotoxins are botulinum toxin, tetanus toxin, and ricin. Several bioactive molecules produced by the pharmaceutical industry can be even more toxic than are the classical chemical warfare agents. Such new agents, like the biotoxins and bioregulators, often are called mid-spectrum agents. The threat to humans from agents developed by modern chemical synthesis and by genetic engineering also must be considered, since such agents may be more toxic or more effective in causing death or incapacitation than classical warfare agents. By developing effective medical protection and treatment against the most likely chemical and mid-spectrum threat agents, the effects of such agents in a war scenario or following a terrorist attack can be reduced.

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