U.S. Department of Defense


Date of this Version



Published in Toxicology Letters, 198, (2010), 297–303


Medical research on the effects of chemical warfare agents (CWAs) has been ongoing for nearly 100 years, yet these agents continue to pose a serious threat to deployed military forces and civilian populations. CWAs are extremely toxic, relatively inexpensive, and easy to produce, making them a legitimate weapon of choice for terrorist organizations. While the mechanisms of action for manyCWAshave been known for years, questions about their molecular effects following acute and chronic exposure remain largely unanswered. Global approaches that can pinpoint which cellular pathways are altered in response to CWAs and characterize long-term toxicity have not been widely used. Fortunately, innovations in genomics and proteomics technologies now allow for thousands of genes and proteins to be identified and subsequently quantified in a single experiment. Advanced bioinformatics software can also help decipher large-scale changes observed, leading to mapping of signaling pathways, functional characterization, and identification of potential therapeutic targets. Here we present an overview of how genomics and proteomics technologies have been applied to CWA research and also provide a series of questions focused on how these techniques could further our understanding of CWA toxicity.