Richard Kuhn Biochemist Discovered Nerve Toxin Soman worked on carotenoids, vitamins Synthesis

Richard Kuhn – discoverer of nerve toxin Soman

Article on Richard Kuhn

Biography & contributions

Richard Kuhn, an Austrian-German biochemist born on December 03, 1900 – died on August 01, 1967. Richard got famous with his investigation of carotenoids and vitamin synthesis.

Richard’s areas of interest include mechanisms of how biological systems utilize organic compounds, carotenoids, syntheses of polyenes, syntheses of cumulenes, flavins, vitamins and enzymes.

Kuhn discovered that carotene, a pigment in carrots, was the precursor to vitamin A production. Kuhn et al. discovered chemical structure of vitamin B2, or riboflavin.

Other major works of Kuhn include

In 1935 Kuhn synthesized vitamin B2 (riboflavin).

In 1938 he synthesized vitamin B6 (pyridoxine).

In 1944 Kuhn discovered the deadly nerve toxin Soman and eight carotenoids.

He studied the hydrocarbons acidity property

Facts about Soman

Soman is a clear, colorless, tasteless, man-made synthetic chemical warfare nerve agent.Soman can easily leads to short-term threatening reactions.

Soman was originally developed as an insecticide in 1944.


It is a nerve agent, interfering with normal functioning of the mammalian nervous system by inhibiting the cholinesterase enzyme.It is an inhibitor of both acetylcholinesterase and butyrylcholinesterase.

All the nerve agents cause their toxic effects by preventing the proper operation of an enzyme that acts as the body’s “off switch” for glands and muscles.


  • Abnormally low or high blood pressure
  • Blurred vision
  • Chest tightness
  • Confusion
  • Cough
  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling and excessive sweating
  • Drowsiness
  • Eye pain
  • Headache
  • Increased urination
  • Nausea, vomiting, and/or abdominal pain
  • Rapid breathing
  • Runny nose
  • Slow or fast heart rate
  • Small, pinpoint pupils
  • Watery eyes
  • Weakness

Facts about Cumulene

Cumulenes are organic molecules with two or more cumulative (consecutive) double bonds. Their reactions often proceed at room temperature, with or without a catalyst, and are stereospecific, giving the reaction products in high yields - features characteristic of click reactions/click chemistry.

Cumulenes in click reactions presents a comprehensive list of cumulene systems and their reactions.

Example for cumulene


Facts about Carotenoids

Carotenoids, the colorful plant pigments some of which the body can turn into vitamin A, are powerful antioxidants that can help prevent some forms of cancer and heart disease, and act to enhance your immune response to infections.

Carotenoids are a class of more than 600 naturally occurring pigments synthesized by plants, algae, and photosynthetic bacteria, about 40 to 50 are present in the normal human diet and approximately 20 different carotenoids have been found in human blood. Animals (including humans) do not synthesize carotenoids, they must obtain carotenoids from the diet.

In plants, carotenoids have the important antioxidant function of quenching (deactivating) singlet oxygen, an oxidant formed during photosynthesis

Carotenoids can facilitate communication between neighboring cells grown in culture by stimulating the synthesis of connexin proteins.

From a chemical standpoint, carotenoids are tetraterpenoid compounds, which contain 40 carbon atoms arranged in a repeating pattern of 5 carbon units. Carotenoids are further subdivided into carotenes which contain only carbon and hydrogen and xanthophylls which also contain oxygen.

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