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In this file photo taken on on Oct. 4, 1987, a Soviet army officer presents ammunition rigged with chemical agents during a visit by Western diplomats and journalists to a chemical weapons research facility in Shikhany, Saratov region, Russia. The facility in Shikhany led the efforts to develop Soviet chemical weapons, including Novichok-class nerve agents. John Thor Dahlburg/ AP Photo

What is Novichok? A neurotoxicologist explains

Novichok are a set of molecules that are some of the most deadly nerve agents ever developed. They are almost impossible to detect and clean up.
Emergency personnel at the Ashley Wood Recovery Centre in Salisbury as the investigation into the suspected nerve agent attack on Russian double agent Sergei Skripal continues. PA Images

The story of the Novichok nerve agents – podcast

An audio version of an in depth article on the story of how the nerve agent used in an attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal was developed.
Police teams bag up swabs from railings outside The Maltings shopping centre, where former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found critically ill. PA Images

Novichok: the deadly story behind the nerve agent

A long read on how nerve agents were developed – and used in an attack on a former Russian spy on the streets of Salisbury.
Enzymes, the catalysts of biology, can engulf and break down hundreds of nerve agent molecules per second. Image: Pymol. PDB 4E3T rcsb.org

Enzymes versus nerve agents: Designing antidotes for chemical weapons

Scientists invented chemical weapons; some are now working to destroy them. New biomolecular design techniques let researchers design proteins that can destroy nerve agents in bodies.
UN inspectors will face several problems determining what has happened in Damascus. EPA/STR

Chemical weapons in Syria: who, what, where, when, why?

It’s been a little more than a week since reports surfaced of a large-scale chemical weapon attack in Syria. Governments in Europe and the United States have accused the Syrian government of attacking…
Hopefully this will remain a rare sight. Edgaras Zvirblys

Explainer: what are chemical weapons?

There was chaos on the streets of Halajba in March 1988. In this corner of Iraq, at the time Iraqi Kurdistan, people had suddenly started experiencing cold-like symptoms – tight chest and nasal congestion…

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