Saturday, April 14, 2018

3-Quinuclidinyl Benzilate: The Antidote to Novichok

Buzz. Source
Revised April 15, 2018: Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, is reported to have stated that:
...the substance used on Sergei Skripal was an agent called BZ, according to Swiss state Spiez lab.... The toxin was never produced in Russia, but was in service in the US, UK, and other NATO states.
BZ, or Buzz, is a common name for 3-Quinuclidinyl Benzilate, a white, odorless, water soluble, crystalline solid, with a molecular mass of  337.419 and a melting point of 164 C.

Like botulinum toxin, BZ can kill through paralysis, and hence asphyxiation, although the modes of action of the substances differ.

Botulinum toxin inhibits the release of acetylcholine at the neuromuscular junction, whereas BZ binds to the acetylcholine receptors at the neuromuscular junction without activating them. In either case, the result of a sufficiently large dose is paralysis, and in either case, the effect is countered by any agent that inhibits the enzymic breakdown of acetyl choline at the neuromuscular junction (for example the "as developed in Russia" nerve agent, Novichok).

The toxicity of BZ is quite low, with an estimated LD50 (dose required to create a 50% chance of death) of about one tenth of a gram, or about one millionth the toxicity of botulinum toxin. Symptoms of BZ toxicity include delirium, hallucination and general mental incapacity.

BZ is a recognized antimuscarinic pharmacological agent available for purchase from Sigma-Aldrich and more than a dozen other commercial sources. So if BZ was the only chemical to which the Skripals were exposed, it indicates that the decision to tear-down Sergei Skripal's house, and the restaurant and pub where Sergei Skripal and his daughter obtained refreshment the day they were poisoned is either totally insane, or part of a theatrical production entitled: THE SKRIPALS: A Russian, Horror, WMD Terror-Attack Midst England's Green and Pleasant Land.

The Spiez Laboratory of the Swiss Federal Office for Civil Protection
If the Spiez Laboratory of the Swiss Federal Office for Civil Protection are correct in their analysis of the samples supplied to them, either by the UK or the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (which organization is too coy to reveal what it found through multiple analyses by independent laboratories of the blood samples supplied to them by the UK Government), it could explain several features of the Skripal poisoning narrative.

First, if BZ was the agent that caused the Skripals to be hospitalized, it would explain the long delay between the time of ingestion of the poison, whether at home in the buckwheat cereal that Yulia Skripals friend had brought for the Skripals from Moscow, or at lunch with their seafood salad. Second, it would explain Sergei Skipal's loud and angry Russian-language rant about the slow service at the restaurant where they lunched as the result of BZ-induced delirium or hallucination.

What the finding of BZ poisoning refutes, if BZ was indeed the poison and not the therapeutically administered antidote to a different poison, is the evidence of a woman reported to be a doctor who attended on the Skripals in the park where they were said to have been found incapacitated. As we have already suggested, that hearsay evidence of an alleged doctor, who requested that her identity not be revealed, is highly questionable.

Furthermore, if the poisoning of the Skripals was due to BZ, then the "doctor" of undisclosed identity was surely a plant whose job it was to provide false circumstantial evidence of Novichok poisoning: specifically, her claim to reporters that the Skipals were vomiting and convulsing — symptoms quite the opposite of the physical paralysis induced by severe BZ poisoning.

Previously, we argued that Novichok might have been administered to the Skripals as an antidote to botulinum toxin in their seafood lunch.  The revelation that the Skripals may have been poisoned with BZ, not botulinum toxin, does not negate our original hypothesis, since Novichok is a choline esterase inhibitor and, therefore, a recognized antidote to any anticholinergic poison such as BZ. The use of Novichok as an antidote to BZ poisoning would have been a surprising medical choice, but highly effective in creating false evidence of an assassination attempt with Novichok. 

Questions that remain for the British Government include the following:
Why did Dr. Davies, the Resident for Emergency Medicine at the Salisbury Trust Hospital, say that no one had been treated for nerve agent poisoning?

If as claimed the Skripals were admitted to the Salisbury Trust Hospital with symptoms of nerve agent poisoning, what analyses of  blood and vomit were conducted on the orders of the attending physicians and with what results?
Unless, at this late stage, the government of Theresa May produces convincing evidence to the contrary, it must  be concluded that the Skripal poisoning saga is simply a ridiculous charade written and carried out by buffoons with little relevant knowledge other than of how to so shape the lips, tongue and larynx as to emit a cloud of lies potentially culminating in a nuclear conflagration.

Postscript

An anonymous commenter has kindly drawns our attention to the following statement on Russia's UK Embassy website:

Embassy Press Officer comments on the findings of the Swiss experts regarding the Salisbury incident

According to information from the Swiss Federal Institute for NBC-protection in Spiez, its experts received samples collected in Salisbury by the OPCW specialists and finished testing them on 27 March.

The experts of the Institute discovered traces of toxic chemical called “BZ” and its precursors. It is a Schedule 2 substance under the Chemical Weapons Convention.

“BZ” is a chemical agent, which is used to temporary incapacitate people. The desired psychotoxic effect is reached in 30-60 minutes after application of the agent and lasts up to four days. According to the information the Russian Federation possesses, this agent was used in the armed forces of the USA, United Kingdom and several others NATO member states. No stocks of such substance ever existed either in the Soviet Union or in the Russian Federation.

In addition, the Swiss specialists discovered strong concentration of traces of the nerve agent of A-234 type in its initial states as well as its decomposition products.

In view of the experts, such concentration of the A-234 agent would result in inevitable fatal outcome of its administration. Moreover, considering its high volatility, the detection of this substance in its initial state (pure form and high concentration) is extremely suspicious as the samples have been taken several weeks since the poisoning.

It looks highly likely that the “BZ” nerve agent was used in Salisbury. The fact that Yulia Skripal and Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey have already been discharged from hospital, and Sergei Skripal is on his way to recovery, only supports such conclusion.

All this information was not mentioned in the final OPCW report at all.

Considering the above, we have numerous serious questions to all interested parties, including the OPCW.
So the Russians are suggesting that the blood samples supplied to the OPCW were spiked with Novichok, aka A234. 

The presence of both a choline esterase inhibitor (the Novichok A234) and a paralytic agent (BZ) confirms our prediction that the blood samples would contain both: one the poison; the other the antidote. 

Ignoring the suspiciously high concentration of Novichok, which raises the possibility of the samples being spiked, the question then is which of the two nerve agents discovered was the poison and which the antidote. If the Novichok was the antidote, that might explain its suspiciously high concentration, since it would have been given in small doses for some time after the initial poisoning.

It now appears that the debate about what happened will end without definite conclusion unless witnesses in the UK come forward, e.g., medical staff at the Salisbury Trust Hospital. Presumably such witnesses are currently under great pressure to keep their mouths shut.

Related: 
CanSpeccy: The UK's Novichok Poisoning Cover-up
Moon of Alabama: Were the Skripals 'Buzzed', 'Novi-shocked' Or Neither? - May Has Some 'Splaining' To Do
Craig Murray: The British Government’s Legal Justification for Bombing is Entirely False and Without Merit
CanSpeccy: Novichok: Russia's Antidote to Seafood Poisoning
CanSpeccy: Novijoke: To Russia With Hate

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for this informative and interesting analysis.

    The Russians now claim that the Swiss lab found both BZ and an "A-234 type" nerve agent in the samples.

    https://www.rusemb.org.uk/fnapr/6486

    Is it possible that traces of a pure, highly concentrated "A-234 type" compound -- as the Russians report the Swiss found -- would be found 3 weeks after the March 4 poisoning? (I believe the OPCW tests were on or about March 27.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks very much for the link to the Russian Embassy website and their report stating:

      "In addition, the Swiss specialists discovered strong concentration of traces of the nerve agent of A-234 type in its initial states as well as its decomposition products.

      In view of the experts, such concentration of the A-234 agent would result in inevitable fatal outcome of its administration. Moreover, considering its high volatility, the detection of this substance in its initial state (pure form and high concentration) is extremely suspicious as the samples have been taken several weeks since the poisoning."

      It looks highly likely that the “BZ” nerve agent was used in Salisbury. The fact that Yulia Skripal and Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey have already been discharged from hospital, and Sergei Skripal is on his way to recovery, only supports such conclusion.

      All this information was not mentioned in the final OPCW report at all.

      Considering the above, we have numerous serious questions to all interested parties, including the OPCW."

      The Russians are suggesting that the blood samples supplied to the OPCW were spiked with Novichok, aka A234.

      In any case, the presence of both a choline esterase inhibitor (e.g., A234) and a paralytic agent (e.g., botulinum toxin or BZ) is what we argued would be found (http://canspeccy.blogspot.ca/2018/04/novichok-russias-answer-to-seafood.html).

      Ignoring the suspiciously high concentration of Novichok which raises the possibility of the samples being spiked, the question then is which was the poison and which the antidote. If the Novichok was the antidote, that might explain its suspiciously high concentration, since it would have been given in small doses for some time after the initial poisoning.

      However, it looks as though the debate about what happened will end without definite conclusion unless the witnesses in the UK come forward, e.g., medical staff at the Salisbury Trust Hospital. Presumably such witnesses are currently under severe pressure to keep their mouths shut.

      Delete
  2. Its not only the UK government who should provide answers.
    The OPCW is an UN connected organisation. It should be politically neutral. It should publish all details of the process of taking samples, what accredited laboratories analysed the samples, and full reports, not just confusing and sketchy summary.

    ReplyDelete