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Medical aspects of toxin weapons.

Toxicology 2005 October 31
For centuries, poisons and other biological material have been considered as weapons. However, it has been merely 100 years that the use of biological toxins as weapons has been explored scientifically. Trichothecenes, ricin and botulinum neurotoxins are natural organic toxins with diverse potencies. Their molecular structure, mechanisms of action, detection, clinical diagnosis and therapy are reviewed and their potential as biological weapon is discussed. It is not only the median lethal dose of each toxin that decides on its usability as a biological weapon, but also the availability, scale of production, purity of the isolated material and route of distribution. In general, without a state infrastructure, the use of biological weapons is restricted to assassinations or strictly localised terrorist attacks.

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