U of MN Center for Drug Design awarded $2.5 million grant

Researchers will study cyanide antidotes

The University of Minnesota Center for Drug Design has been awarded a $2.5 million, 5-year grant by the National Institute of Health (NIH) to research antidotes for cyanide poisoning. The study, Countermeasures Against Chemical Threats: Countermeasures Against Cyanide, will be led by Herbert Nagasawa, Ph.D., Robert Vince, Ph.D., and Steve Patterson, Ph.D.

Cyanide poisoning has the potential to be an intentional threat, as a weapon of mass destruction, or an accidental threat, through laboratory exposure, medical crisis, or smoke inhalation of fire victims. There are currently treatments that can be used to fight cyanide poisoning but they are slow acting and can have serious complications. The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Chemical Defense says that in order to effectively intervene in cyanide poisoning, a fast acting "three-minute solution" is necessary. One goal of better treatments is to produce a phophylactic agent that can be taken before the threat of a cyanide attack.

The Center for Drug Design has already developed a series of antidotes that can convert cyanide into a nontoxic substance through the use of a cellular enzyme. These antidotes are quicker than current treatment and can be delivered either orally or intravenously. This study aims to expand the efficiency, bioavailability, and physical properties of these antidotes, to seek specific substances to improve the neurological problems for long-term survivors of acute cyanide poisoning, and to begin preclinical studies that will lead to filing an application with the FDA for an investigational new drug (IND).

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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