Source: Wire - Scripps Howard News Service
Pubdate: Fri, 05 Jun 1998
Author: Julian Borger, The Scripps Howard News Service


JERUSALEM -- The best available protection against nerve gas attack
comes from an Israeli-made synthetic equivalent of marijuana, U.S.
military experiments have shown.

In U.S. Army tests, rats injected with Dexanabinol, a chemical
substitute for hashish, were more than 70 percent less likely to
suffer epileptic seizures or brain damage after exposure to sarin and
other nerve gases, according to results published in the Israeli press

The drug was developed by an Israeli pharmaceutical firm, Pharmos, to
treat head injuries and strokes, but now it looks likely to become
part of the standard chemical warfare kit carried by NATO troops after
the results of the tests were announced at a conference in Maryland
last month.

Dr. Anat Biagon, deputy director-general for research at Pharmos, told
the newspaper Ha'aretz: ``Dexanabinol can be used as part of the
standard treatment in an attack using nerve gas, along with atropin.
The drug can diminish nerve damage of the kind we witnessed in Gulf
War syndrome.''

It is thought to interact with neural receptors in the brain in the
same way as marijuana, and thereby block the damaging effects of nerve

The U.S. tests suggest it's effective as an antidote and as a
preventative measure. So far, tests have only been carried out on
rodents, but experiments on humans are expected to be the next stage.

Until then, no one can be sure whether Dexanabinol has the same
mellowing side-effects as organic marijuana.

(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.)

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