Toward a better cyanide antidote for terrorist attacks and other mass casualty events

January 30, 2013

In an advance toward closing a major gap in defenses against terrorist attacks and other mass casualty events, scientists are reporting discovery of a promising substance that could be the basis for development of a better antidote for cyanide poisoning. Their report, which describes a potential antidote that could be self-administered, much like the medication delivered by allergy injection pens, appears in ACS' Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

Steven E. Patterson, Ph.D., and colleagues at the University of Minnesota Center for Drug Design explain that the only existing antidotes for cyanide—recognized as a high-risk substance for potential use by terrorists—must be administered by intravenous infusion. That procedure requires highly trained paramedical personnel and takes time. Cyanide, however, is a fast-acting poison. In a situation involving , only a limited number of victims could be saved. Patterson's team thus sought an antidote that could be administered by intra-muscular (IM) injection, a simpler procedure that could be administered rapidly to a large number of victims or even be self-administered.

Their report describes discovery of a substance, sulfanegen TEA, "which should be amenable for development as an IM injectable antidote suitable for treatment of cyanide victims in a mass casualty setting. Further development, including efficacy in lethal cyanide animal models, will be reported at a later date."

Explore further: Plants and caterpillars make the same cyanide

More information: "Cyanide Antidotes for Mass Casualties: Water-Soluble Salts of the Dithiane (Sulfanegen) from 3- Mercaptopyruvate for Intramuscular Administration", J. Med. Chem., Just Accepted Manuscript, DOI: 10.1021/jm301633x

Abstract
Current cyanide antidotes are all administered by IV infusion, a suboptimal procedure in a mass casualty setting. Therefore, in a cyanide disaster from a chemical accident or an act of terrorism, intramuscular (IM) injectable antidotes would be more appropriate. It has become clear that our lead cyanide antidote, viz., sulfanegen sodium, is insufficiently water-soluble for the IM mode of administration. We now report the discovery of the highly water-soluble sulfanegen triethanolamine salt, with greater than a 4-fold increase in solubility and increase in potency compared to the parent sulfanegen sodium, thus offering a promising lead for development as an IM injectable cyanide antidote.

Related Stories

Plants and caterpillars make the same cyanide

April 13, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- With an amazing example of convergent evolution, Niels Bjerg Jensen of the University of Copenhagen published a report in Nature Communications discussing the bird's-foot trefoil plant and the burnet moth ...

Recommended for you

New hydrogel bandage for burns less painful to remove

July 29, 2016

(Phys.org)—A combined team of researchers from Boston University and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, also in Boston, has published a paper in the journal Angewandte Chemie describing a new type of hydrogel they have ...

Researchers study how cobalt catalysts produce hydrogen

July 29, 2016

It's the worst short story ever written: on a dark and stormy night; the end. The real story—the context, the tension, and the motivations—are missing. That's what it feels like for scientists reading the reaction that ...

Why do antidepressants take so long to work?

July 28, 2016

An episode of major depression can be crippling, impairing the ability to sleep, work, or eat. In severe cases, the mood disorder can lead to suicide. But the drugs available to treat depression, which can affect one in six ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.