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November 18, 1961

NERVE GASES

JAMA. 1961;178(7):755-756. doi:10.1001/jama.1961.03040460063015
Abstract

Today the organic phosphorus compounds are among the more commonly encountered poisons. These materials are used widely as insecticides, and they also find application as therapeutic agents in the treatment of myasthenia gravis and glaucoma. This group of compounds contains some of the most toxic agents known, the so-called "nerve gases." The principal, if not the only, pharmacologic effect of the organic phosphorus compounds is inhibition of the enzyme cholinesterase.

Atropine has long been the antidote of choice in treating anticholinesterase poisoning. However, the effect of atropine is limited to pharmacologic antagonism of the excess acetylcholine accumulated as a result of the decreased cholinesterase activity. In recent years antidotes of a new type have been reported. These antidotes are oximes, and they function by regenerating active cholinesterase from the inhibited enzyme complex.

In April, 1958 (p. 1834), The Journal published a report of early Japanese clinical experience in the treatment

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