econintersect.com
       
  

FREE NEWSLETTER: Econintersect sends a nightly newsletter highlighting news events of the day, and providing a summary of new articles posted on the website. Econintersect will not sell or pass your email address to others per our privacy policy. You can cancel this subscription at any time by selecting the unsubscribing link in the footer of each email.



posted on 27 February 2017

Explainer: What Is VX Nerve Agent And How Does It Work?

from The Conversation

-- this post authored by Martin Boland, Charles Darwin University

The substance that could be responsible for the death Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was the VX nerve agent, according to preliminary reports from Malaysian police. The Conversation

Kim Jong-nam died on February 13 from a seizure on his way to hospital after complaining that a woman had sprayed chemicals on his face at Kuala Lumpur airport.

The Royal Malaysia Police said in a statement that the results of dry swab tests on the “death of a North Korean national" identified the chemical as “Ethyl S-2-Diisopropylaminoethyl Methylphosphonothiolate", also known as “VX nerve agent".

What is VX?

VX is a lethal chemical weapon in the V-series of nerve agents. Although commonly referred to as nerve gases, the chemicals are usually liquids at room temperature.

The V-series were first developed in the UK in the mid-1950s. Like all nerve agents, the V-series block the biological action of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE).

AChE is responsible for metabolising the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which in turn is responsible for the transmission of a nerve impulse across the gap (called a synapse) between two nerve cells.

By preventing AChE from metabolising acetylcholine, the nerve agent causes the synapse to become flooded with the neurotransmitter. This saturation leads to the nerve being constantly switched “on". In the case of nerves that control muscles, this means that the muscle is constantly receiving a signal to contract.

Constant muscle contraction becomes a problem when the muscles in question are the ones that control the expansion of the rib cage, to fill the lungs with air. If these muscles are continuously trying to contract, the body is constantly trying to fill the lungs with air, and thus not allowing the body to expel air from the lungs.

The victim of such a nerve agent usually dies from asphyxiation due to not being able to breathe out.

Other symptoms

Although asphyxiation is usually the ultimate cause of death, exposure to AChE inhibitors has a wide range of symptoms, including runny nose, drooling and contraction of the pupils.

Unlike the nerve agent sarin, which was used to attack the Tokyo subway and Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus in Syria, the V-series are termed “persistent" agents.

In chemical weapons terms, persistent means that the agent has a low volatility. In turn, this means that it can be used in relatively confined spaces (such as an airport terminal) with less risk of obvious adverse effects on bystanders or the perpetrators.

But low doses of nerve agent have been linked with long-term effects in people who did not exhibit clinical symptoms at the time of exposure.

All nerve agents can affect the body either through inhalation or skin contact. The V-series are usually associated with entering the body through skin contact.

Another advantage of using VX for any would-be assassin, is that the amount of VX needed to kill is around 10mg (1/100th of a gram). That is around a tenth of the amount of sarin needed to cause death, and a droplet around the size of the nib of a ballpoint pen.

Who has VX?

VX has been used before as a mode of assassination. Members of Aum Shinrikyo used VX to kill a suspected traitor to the Japanese cult.

The cult also provided their members with the antidote to nerve agent poisoning during the attack on the Tokyo subway. This shows that it is possible for perpetrators to use a nerve agent as a weapon in close proximity, without needing to use bulky protective equipment, or risk lethal exposure themselves.

Since discovery, V-agents have been researched, produced and stockpiled by several countries. Most of those countries have now given up their offensive chemical weapons programs and are in the process of destroying their stockpiles and placing their means of production under international monitoring via the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

OPCW oversees the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Under the CWC, VX and all nerve agents (and their precursors that have no other legitimate industrial use) are illegal to produce or procure.

North Korea is one of only four countries that have not signed or acceded to the CWC. The North Korean government is believed to have a stockpile of chemical weapons, including V-series agents and can manufacture them in industrial quantities.

Martin Boland, Senior Lecturer of Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Charles Darwin University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

>>>>> Scroll down to view and make comments <<<<<<

Click here for Historical News Post Listing










Make a Comment

Econintersect wants your comments, data and opinion on the articles posted. You can also comment using Facebook directly using he comment block below.




Econintersect Contributors


search_box

Print this page or create a PDF file of this page
Print Friendly and PDF


The growing use of ad blocking software is creating a shortfall in covering our fixed expenses. Please consider a donation to Econintersect to allow continuing output of quality and balanced financial and economic news and analysis.


Take a look at what is going on inside of Econintersect.com
Main Home
Analysis Blog
Slow Economic Growth Will Be Around For A Long Time
The Job Guarantee, Wage-Price Inflation And Alternative Solutions: Part 2
News Blog
U.S. Top Source Of DDoS Attacks In Q4 2016
How Artificial Intelligence And The Robotic Revolution Will Change The Workplace Of Tomorrow
Amazon's Alexa Is A Fast Learner
What We Read Today 26 March 2017
NASA's Plan To Use A Giant Magnet To Make Mars Habitable
Mexico Faces Cloudy 2017 Outlook, Recent Data Mixed
Money Market Funds And The New SEC Regulation
Life Cycle Hypothesis
How Tight Is The U.S. Labor Market?
Infographic Of The Day: President Trump's Budget Would Make Big Cuts To Agencies Which Focus On Science
Early Headlines: GW Will Increase Rainfall, New Ohio Law Inhibits Wind Farms, Break Up California?, EU C Emissions At 22-Yr Low, Mosul Offensive Suspended, And More
The Cynical Game
Earnings And Economic Reports: Week Starting 06 June 201627 March 2017
Investing Blog
Earnings: A Lot Less Than Meets The Eye
The Week Ahead: Does The Demise Of The Health Care Bill Mean Anything For Stocks?
Opinion Blog
Yellen's Dangerous Glass-Steagall Repression
Fade To Black
Precious Metals Blog
These Gold Stocks Will Produce Much Bigger Gains Than Gold Itself
Live Markets
24Mar2017 Market Close: Trumpcare Collapses But Little Affect On The Markets
Amazon Books & More






.... and keep up with economic news using our dynamic economic newspapers with the largest international coverage on the internet
Asia / Pacific
Europe
Middle East / Africa
Americas
USA Government































 navigate econintersect.com

Blogs

Analysis Blog
News Blog
Investing Blog
Opinion Blog
Precious Metals Blog
Markets Blog
Video of the Day
Weather

Newspapers

Asia / Pacific
Europe
Middle East / Africa
Americas
USA Government
     

RSS Feeds / Social Media

Combined Econintersect Feed
Google+
Facebook
Twitter
Digg

Free Newsletter

Marketplace - Books & More

Economic Forecast

Content Contribution

Contact

About

  Top Economics Site

Investing.com Contributor TalkMarkets Contributor Finance Blogs Free PageRank Checker Active Search Results Google+

This Web Page by Steven Hansen ---- Copyright 2010 - 2017 Econintersect LLC - all rights reserved