Medicine: War on Nerve Gas

An antidote against nerve gases—one of the most publicized weapons in the unused arsenal of chemical warfare—was an nounced this week by Columbia University researchers. A cheap chemical nicknamed PAM, it has proved 100% effective against gases that had always been 100% fatal in test animals. The compound's significance: it may nullify the hazards of nerve gas directed in war against either troops or civilian populations.

Like many another medical victory, the development of PAM (2-pyridine al-doxime methiodide) was the unplanned result of basic research. First, Columbia's Dr. David Nachmansohn showed that the...