In 1943, German Army recruited Nobel Prize winner (1938) Austrian-German biochemist Richard Kuhn to determine the nerve agent damage cause mechanism.
He and his research team discovered the nerve agent blocking enzyme – cholinesterase and its operation process. As part of their research, in 1944, Kuhn and colleagues synthesised a new nerve agent, soman, which was twice as good as sarin at inhibiting cholinesterase.
Sarin was the second nerve gas classified as toxic poison, and it was discovered in 1938, by a group of German scientists, while they were attempting to create a pesticide stronger than Triton83. The new agent was named in honour of its discoverers: Schrader, Ambros, Gerhard Ritter, and von der Linde.
Tabun was the first nerve gas classified as toxic poison, and it was discovered accidentally by the German chemist Gerhard Schrader, in January 1936, while developing new organophorous based insecticides, to fight against world famine.
Nitrogen mustards were first synthesised in the 1930s as potential chemical warfare weapons, to have greater systemic toxicity than sulphur mustard. American and German defence organisations started military production in 1941 and 1943.
Julius Arhur Nieuwland, a Belgian-born Holy Cross priest and professor of chemistry and botany, made the first known synthesis of acetylene and arsenic trichloride in 1904, during his PhD studies, while conducting a research on acetylene, looking for a solution to synthetic rubber.
Cyanogen chlorine was synthesized for the first time in 1802 by the French chemist Claude Louis Berthollet, although the correct chemical format was established by his compatriot Louis-Joseph Gay-Lussac in 1815. Cyanides have been used for their toxic potential since ancient Roman times.
In 1886, German chemist Victor Meyer made the first reliable synthesis of pure Sulphur Mustard. The purity of this compound was high and consequently the adverse health effects upon exposure were also severe. Meyer tested this compound on laboratory rabbits, most of which died.
Choking chemical agents are the oldest warfare agents. This type of agents was used for the first time in Peloponnese war in 428 and 424 B.C. The English scientist J.H Davy discovered already in 1812 phosgene, when exposing a mixture of carbon oxide and chlorine to the sunlight.
The production of hydrogen cyanide (hydrocyanic acid) out of the sulfuric acid and Berlin-blue was discovered by Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele in 1782. French chemist and physicist Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac prepared pure liquefied hydrogen cyanide in 1811.