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Nitrogen mustard

Drugs & Medication

Nitrogen mustard

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HN1 (bis(2-chloroethyl)ethylamine)
HN1 (bis(2-chloroethyl)ethylamine)
HN2 (bis(2-chloroethyl)methylamine)
HN2 (bis(2-chloroethyl)methylamine)
HN3 (tris(2-chloroethyl)amine)
HN3 (tris(2-chloroethyl)amine)

The nitrogen mustards are cytotoxic chemotherapy agents similar to mustard gas. Although their common use is medicinal, in principle these compounds may also be used for chemical warfare purposes.

The prototype nitrogen mustard drug is mustine which is no longer commonly in use but was the first drug to be used as an anticancer chemotherapeutic. It is a schedule 1 substance in the Chemical Weapons Convention. Other nitrogen mustards include cyclophosphamide, chlorambucil, uramustine and melphalan.

Nitrogen mustards act by exerting radiomimetic properties on the cytogenetic material of the cell (chromosomes) ie; the effects seen are similar to genetic material which has been exposed to radiation.

Ovation Pharma bought the rights to nitrogen mustard . A New York Times article has mentioned that only about 5000 people use therapeutic nitrogen mustard in the United States.

Examples of nitrogen mustards that can be used for chemical warfare purposes and their military weapon designations include:

  • HN1: Bis(2-chloroethyl) ethylamine
    HN2: Bis(2-chloroethyl) methylamine
    HN3: Tris(2-chloroethyl) amine

All belligerent nations stock-piled large amounts of munitions containing nitrogen mustard gas during the Second World War, but none were used in combat. As with all types of mustard gas, nitrogen mustard is a powerful and persistent blister agent.

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