Saturday, December 11, 2004

Missed Poisoning Attempt

It is now official, Viktor Yushchenko was poisoned with Dioxin. I did some reading on the internet about this and found this news story to be pretty well researched on the technical facts of the case.
Dioxin — one of the contaminants found in Agent Orange — is formed as a by-product from industrial processes such as waste incineration, chemical and pesticide manufacturing and pulp and paper bleaching.

Exposure to the toxin can lead to chloracne — a type of adult acne that Dr. Zimpfer has said can take a long time to clear.

Dioxins are a normal contaminant in many foods, but a single high dose can trigger illness, London-based toxicologist John Henry said last month.

Shortly after the announcement of the diagnosis on Saturday, Henry told British Broadcasting Corp. television that Mr. Yushchenko's case was, in his experience, unique.

"We've never had a case like this, a known case of large, severe dioxin poisoning ... It's normally fairly mild. It can cause liver damage," he said. "It's usually low-level, long-term poisoning. A very large dose, nobody has any real idea of what it would cause. Now we do know."

Mr. Yushchenko had returned to the hospital later in September for further treatment and checked in for a third time Friday.

Dr. Nikolai Korpan said "no functional damage will remain."
In 1976 Italy had a little 'accident' with Dioxin, the link takes you to a medical journal abstract describing the effects of those persons affected. That experience also supports the reversibility of the damage.
All patients suffered burnlike skin lesions and all but two recovered without residual effects. Chloracne occurred in 12 of these cases; it was mild in almost all and has now disappeared. Systemic functions were repeatedly evaluated in all cases and no evidence of visceral lesions was obtained. Immunocapability was normal and chromosome aberrations were within the normal range.

Historically, Dioxin is not your usual poison of choice. Cyanide usually gets a lot of attention for poisoning, but people 'in the know' knows of better choices. Succinylcholine would've been the much smarter choice to achieve your poisoning goals. I'll never forget sitting in Organic Medicinal Chemistry class when the professor first introduced this drug. He drew the structure on the board and turned to us and said, "The perfect murdering drug, Succinylcholine." It is perfect because you naturally have an enzyme that breaks down the drug to just choline, a naturally occuring substance, so therefore, it is not detectable. There are some people who, due to genetic reasons, have a deficiency in this enzyme and in those folks, you could detect the drug. And how does succinylcholine kill you? Well it paralyzes all of your skeletal muscles, including the very important diaphragm. It would be a very cruel death, because the victim would be completely conscious and completely paralyzed, unable to move and breath. We use this drug everyday, thousands of times a day, in hospitals for intubating patients. Every now and then you'll see a movie or murder mystery focus on this.

So in conclusion, whoever cooked up this idea of poisoning Yushchenko obviously did not do their homework. I wonder if they are still alive?? Hmmmm..... I wonder what the Russian government does to someone who screws up a poisoning attempt on the leader of the political opposition??