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Government continues funding for new cyanide poisoning antidote

A U.S. research institute is continuing development on a new intra-nasal antidote for cyanide poisoning.
By Richard Tomkins   |   March 26, 2014 at 11:06 AM   |   Comments

March 26 (UPI) -- The U.S. government is continuing sponsorship of a program to develop a first-line, rapid treatment system for cyanide poisoning.

The work is being performed by the Southwest Research Institute under an $8.3 million, 28-month contract extension from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

SwRI’s work focuses on development of a nasal-delivery, first-line treatment to combat cyanide poisoning using an intranasal formulation of base period of SwRI’s contract, nasal delivery of isoamyl nitrite was shown to be surprisingly effective at treating and rapidly reversing otherwise lethal cyanide exposure during nonclinical testing, according to McDonough.

“This is just one more program in SwRI’s 10 year effort to develop antidotes against toxic industrial chemicals and chemical weapons,” said Dr. Michael MacNaughton, vice president of the Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Division. “SwRI has a long history of developing new technology to support the Government. The institute is a leader in the drug development and delivery field and is working toward new medical counter-measures for chemical agents, including this cyanide antidote.”

SwRI will also develop additional clinical supplies and perform regulatory filings and testing in two animal models to show the safety and efficacy of the system.

“This antidote could potentially save many lives in an emergency situation by allowing individuals to quickly administer -- even self-administer -- a life-saving dosage of the isoamyl nitrite intra-nasally,” said Dr. Joe McDonough, principal investigator and director of SwRI’s Microencapsulation and Nanomaterials Department. “This formulation, using a nasal delivery method, is relatively low-cost and can be quickly and easily administered in a crisis situation unlike the current method that must be delivered by a trained medical professional.”

SwRI said current antidotes require intravenous administration, which does not enable quick treatment of large numbers of victims, such as in a terrorist situation.

The institute is an independent, nonprofit applied research and development organization. Its work on the new system began in 2011 under a $4.4 million government contract. Institute work during the base period of the award showed nasal delivery of isoamyl nitrite was effective in treating and rapidly reversing the effects of cyanide,

“This is just one more program in SwRI’s 10 year effort to develop antidotes against toxic industrial chemicals and chemical weapons,” said Dr. Michael MacNaughton, vice president of SwRI’s Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Division. “The Institute is a leader in the drug development and delivery field and is working toward new medical counter-measures for chemical agents, including this cyanide antidote.”

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