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Enzymes Versus Sarin Gas: Designing Antidotes for Chemical Weapons

Recent events have pushed chemical weapons and nerve agents such as sarin gas back into the spotlight. Many of these horrendous weapons were originally developed for civilian applications, but weaponized when their destructive potential was realized. Scientific American reported on how scientists are now working to minimize the danger of these weapons and reduce their destructive capabilities.

Scientists are seeking to develop antidotes to nerve agents and also more effective ways of destroying weapons stockpiles. There are existing procedures for destroying these stockpiles: Sarin gas is destroyed through hydrolysis, which involves subjecting the nerve agent to several hours of near boiling temperatures.

Treating a human being who has been exposed to nerve gas is considerably more problematic. There are treatments for sarin gas but these are expensive, toxic and difficult to modulate the proper dose. Atropine is the most well-known of these antidotes.

The next generation of treatments may be based on enzymes. Scientists feel they will provide a more agile solution to the horrors of chemical and nerve agent weapons. Enzymes — proteins composed of amino acids — are secreted by your body to catalyze functions that normally would not occur at body temperature, making them vital to good health and longevity.

Science has identified more than 3,000 different enzymes, yet, we've likely only scratched the surface. Some believe we may have anywhere from 50,000 to 70,000 enzymes in our bodies. Each organ has its own set of enzymes, and each enzyme has a different function.

The potential impact of enzymes is enormous. They operate in a focused manner, and this would reduce the toxicity issues encountered with generalized antidotes and detoxification agents. They also operate with amazing speed. Enzymes are capable of several million discrete biochemical reactions per second. In essence, they act like specialized keys cut to fit specific locks. In this analogy, the locks are biochemical reactions that would render nerve agents such as sarin inert.

Outside of the theater of war, enzymes are also at the forefront of health and medicine. Insufficient enzyme production is at the root of much "tummy trouble" in our country. Digestive problems cost Americans $50 billion each year in both direct costs and absences from work.

This is one of the reasons it's so important to eat your foods raw. Raw foods are enzyme-rich, and consuming them decreases your body's burden to produce its own enzymes. Ideally, you should get 75 percent of your digestive enzymes from your food. I recommend reading my nutrition plan for additional information on how to take control of your health.
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