Citing an “alarming” lack of preparedness for terrorist attacks or other incidents involving release of cyanide, researchers in Minnesota are announcing development of potential new antidotes for the deadly poison that can be taken by mouth rather than injection.
The study is scheduled for the Dec. 27 issue of ACS’ Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication.
In the study, Herbert Nagasawa and colleagues explain that existing antidotes for cyanide poisoning require a series of intravenous drug injections, making them cumbersome and difficult to administer in incidents in which hundreds or thousands of people are exposed. The nation thus faces an “urgent need” for a fast-acting, easy-to-use treatment that can be administered on a large scale, the researchers say. The new compounds, chemically modified versions of 3-mercaptopyruvate, change cyanide into a nontoxic substance. When given orally to laboratory mice prior to cyanide exposure, the compounds prevented poisoning, they add.
An oral drug that prevents cyanide poisoning is “highly desirable for firefighters and other rescue workers responding to industrial and residential fires where the presence of cyanide in the smoke is life-threatening,” the study states. “The new compounds can be produced in quantity for wide distribution to public health agencies for stockpiling to protect the populace in the event of a major cyanide disaster resulting from an industrial accident or terrorist activity,” the study adds.
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