Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Succimer found ineffective for removing mercury

Date:
October 22, 2010
Source:
NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Summary:
Succimer, a drug used for treating lead poisoning, does not effectively remove mercury from the body, according to new research. Some families have turned to succimer as an alternative therapy for treating autism.

Succimer, a drug used for treating lead poisoning, does not effectively remove mercury from the body, according to research supported by the National Institutes of Health. Some families have turned to succimer as an alternative therapy for treating autism.

Related Articles


"Succimer is effective for treating children with lead poisoning, but it does not work very well for mercury," said Walter Rogan, M.D., head of the Pediatric Epidemiology Group at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of NIH, and an author on the paper that appears online in the Journal of Pediatrics.

"Although it is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration to reduce mercury, succimer is reportedly being used for conditions like autism, in the belief that these conditions are caused, in part, by mercury poisoning," Rogan stated. "Our new data offers little support for this practice."

Although researchers found that succimer lowered blood concentrations of mercury after one week, continued therapy for five months only slowed the rate at which the children accumulated mercury. The safety of higher doses and longer courses of treatment has not been studied.

Most mercury exposure in the United States is from methylmercury, found in foods such as certain fish. Thimerosal, a preservative that was once more commonly used in vaccines, contains another form of mercury, called ethylmercury.

To conduct the study, the researchers used samples and data from an earlier clinical trial, led by NIEHS, called the Treatment of Lead-exposed Children (TLC) trial. In the TLC study, succimer lowered blood lead in 2-year-old children with moderate to high blood lead concentrations.

Using blood samples from 767 children who participated in the TLC trial, the researchers measured mercury concentration in the toddlers' blood samples collected before treatment began, one week after beginning treatment with succimer or placebo, and then again after three month-long courses of treatment. Mercury concentrations were similar in all children before treatment. Concentrations eventually increased in both groups, but more slowly in the children given succimer. Succimer had produced a 42 percent difference in blood lead, but only an 18 percent difference in blood mercury.

"Although succimer may slow the increase in blood mercury concentrations, such small changes seem unlikely to produce any clinical benefit," Rogan said. He and his colleagues had reported in an earlier paper that succimer has few adverse side effects, mostly rashes, and an unexplained increase in injuries in children given succimer rather than placebo.

The subjects of the study did not have unusually high blood mercury concentrations for African-American children and the study did not investigate where the mercury in the children came from.

"This research fills a gap in the scientific literature that could not be addressed any other way. We were fortunate to have samples already collected from toddlers who had been treated with succimer for lead poisoning allowing us to help answer this important question," said Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., director of NIEHS and the National Toxicology Program.

Birnbaum noted NIH's commitment to supporting research that provides critically needed information that will help drive more prevention and treatment options for children with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

The study was supported by the NIEHS Intramural Research Program, the National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities at NIH, and the National Center for Environmental Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The succimer, Chemet, and the placebo, were gifts from McNeil Laboratories, Fort Washington, Pa.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Yang Cao, Aimin Chen, Robert L. Jones, Jerilynn Radcliffe, Kim N. Dietrich, Kathleen L. Caldwell, Shyamal Peddada, Walter J. Rogan. Efficacy of Succimer Chelation of Mercury at Background Exposures in Toddlers: A Randomized Trial. The Journal of Pediatrics, 2010; DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2010.08.036

Cite This Page:

NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. "Succimer found ineffective for removing mercury." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 October 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101022123757.htm>.
NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. (2010, October 22). Succimer found ineffective for removing mercury. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101022123757.htm
NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. "Succimer found ineffective for removing mercury." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101022123757.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) An emergency room doctor who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus. He's quarantined in a hospital. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins