BIBLIOGRAPHY: Pilcher, Helen. “Enzyme key to chemical weapon weakness.” Nature, 2003.

Hey friends! Today I will be reviewing a scientific paper written on the link between an enzyme NTE and organophosphates which are nerve agents. This paper titled ‘Enzyme key to chemical weapon weakness’ was written by Helen Pilcher in 2003 and focused its attention on the action of nerve gases in mice. Gassing was used nearly 68 years ago in the extermination of millions of individuals. If you think that’s powerful listen to this. There is an enzyme found in humans and some other mammals that shows resistance to delayed effects of nerve agents which to me is a breakthrough in scientific research. With all that said let’s get into the review and learn more. 

Research was carried out using mice that confirmed that some mice showed delayed effects to nerve poisoning. The article mentioned this experiment and its usefulness in the development of new antidotes. Because some mice proved less vulnerable it was suggested that this observation would be the same in humans. The nerve agent that was studied was organophosphate which is a commonly used pesticide that is responsible for these delayed effects. In areas of high exposure to organophosphates individuals suffered seizures, paralysis and then death; however, it was identified that survivors within a week too suffered severe paralysis caused by the chemical destruction of nerves. The experiment proved that mice with low levels of an enzyme known as NTE were more sensitive to the effects of organophosphates. Neuropathy target esterase (NTE) is an essential enzyme for neural development and covalently modifies organophosphorus compounds. Because humans have a gene for NTE the article suggested that by boosting NTE levels in drugs, scientists can combat the effects of nerve gases and save more individuals after exposure.

After reading this article, my knowledge has definitely been expanded because all of this information was totally new to me. I learnt about the enzyme NTE and its effects on organophosphates, as well as what organophosphates were and their effects on living beings. I also learnt that as a result of genetic variation, some mice as well as humans showed differing resistance to the nerve gases. I was really intrigued to know that this enzyme can assist in the survival of individuals and how it worked.

This article incorporated views from different scientists and individuals involved in this field which showed various perspectives on the experiment and the research observations and limited biasness to one view. The article was very concise and thorough in its writing and clearly explained what both the organophosphate and NTE were and their effects on the mice. There was also mention made to other studies which is always useful in science when other work have been done on a topic and one can compare observations.

Overall, when learning about enzymes in class I never thought they could have such a major role for example in this case with respect to the effects of nerve gases and I hope you guys found this topic as interesting as I did. Thanks for reading!



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