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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.
Syrian children, first aiders and civil defence volunteers showing their support of victims in the recent alleged chemical attack in Syria. Mohammed Badra/EPL

What we know about the April 4 chemical attack in Syria

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Fact Finding Team has not yet revealed the nature of the chemicals used in Khan Sheikhoun.
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.
Members of the youth wing of the National Front, Malaysia’s ruling coalition, hold placards during a protest at the North Korea embassy following the murder of Kim Jong-nam in Kuala Lumpur. Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters

Malaysia says Kim Jong-nam was killed with a chemical weapon – here’s what you need to know

Using nerve agents is banned under the Chemical Weapons Convention, but North Korea is not a party to it.
South Africa needs to ensure that it is equipped to deal with bioterrorism attacks and possible laboratory outbreaks. Mariana Bazo/Reuters

Explainer: biosafety and biosecurity in South Africa

In the science world, laboratories are essential but safety precautions should be taken to prevent any incidents like the Ebola outbreak or biochemical attacks.
The huge task of locating and disposing of Syria’s chemical weapons has begun … so what will inspectors look for? EPA/Lucie Parsaghian

Seek and destroy: dismantling Syria’s chemical weapon stockpile

A team of inspectors from the United Nations and Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) entered Syria on Tuesday to begin the long task of finding and disposing of the country’s chemical…

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