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Pure Appl. Chem., 2002, Vol. 74, No. 12, pp. 2247-2251

Biotechnology and chemical weapons control

M. Wheelis

Section of Microbiology, University of California, 1 Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA

Abstract: Biotechnology is revolutionizing the way new drugs are discovered, from a substantially empirical art to a rational, predictive process in which targets of drugs are selected on the basis of known physiology, then ligands that can bind to these targets are designed. The same process could be used to identify promising new chemical weapons (CW) agents, which would be synthesized from unscheduled precursors. Biotechnology thus has the potential of fueling CW proliferation. It can also aid the development of novel nonlethal chemical agents, the development of which could have a number of negative consequences for CW control.