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nitrogen mustard,any of various poisonous compounds originally developed for military use (see poison gaspoison gas,
any of various gases sometimes used in warfare or riot control because of their poisonous or corrosive nature. These gases may be roughly grouped according to the portal of entry into the body and their physiological effects.
..... Click the link for more information. ). Like mustard gas and lewisite, it is a vesicant (blistering agent). In the form of its crystalline hydrochloride it is used as a drug in the treatment of Hodgkin's diseaseHodgkin's disease,
a type of cancer of the lymphatic system. First identified in 1832 in England by Thomas Hodgkin, it is a type of malignant lymphoma. Incidence peaks in young adults and the elderly.
..... Click the link for more information. , non-Hodgkin's lymphomaslymphoma, non-Hodgkin's,
any cancer of the lymphoid tissue (see lymphatic system) in which the Reed-Sternberg cells characteristic of Hodgkin's disease (the other category of lymphoma) are not present.
..... Click the link for more information. , and brain tumors. Nitrogen mustards cause mutations in the genetic material of cells, thereby disrupting mitosis, or cell division. Cells vary in their susceptibility to nitrogen mustards, with rapidly proliferating tumor and cancer cells most sensitive; bone marrow, which produces red blood cells, is also sensitive, and depression of red blood cell production is a frequent side effect of nitrogen mustard therapy. The nitrogen mustards also suppress the immune response (see immunityimmunity,
ability of an organism to resist disease by identifying and destroying foreign substances or organisms. Although all animals have some immune capabilities, little is known about nonmammalian immunity.
..... Click the link for more information. ).
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nitrogen mustard[′nī·trə·jən ′məs·tərd]
Any of the substituted mustard gases in which the sulfur is replaced by an amino nitrogen, such as for methyl bis(2-chlorethyl)amine, (CH2ClCH2)2NCH3; useful in cancer research.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.