The University of Minnesota Twin Cities and Windgap Medical have received a $3.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop a new device to quickly administer a recently developed antidote for cyanide poisoning.
Under the grant, researchers from the University's Center for Drug Design, College of Pharmacy, and Massachusetts-based pharmaceutical company Windgap Medical are collaborating to design an autoinjector. The collaboration's goal is to develop a valuable tool for first responders to use in saving victims of cyanide poisoning. The five-year grant comes from the NIH's CounterACT program, which aims to prepare countermeasures against chemical threats that have the potential to be used as weapons.
The risk of cyanide use in a terrorist attack is such that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security identifies cyanide among the highest priority chemical threats. Current antidotes are not well-suited for use in a mass-casualty setting. We have long recognized that a device to deliver a cyanide antidote as rapidly and easily as epinephrine would be extremely useful. It is clear that Windgap has the technology to develop such a device." Steven Patterson, professor in the Center for Drug Design
In addition to terrorist attacks, toxic levels of cyanide exposure can also come from building fires and industrial accidents. The chemical kills cells in the body by preventing them from using oxygen. Symptoms of toxic exposure, which can develop within minutes, include convulsions, loss of consciousness, and possibly death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those who survive cyanide poisoning are at risk for a severe neurological disorder similar to Parkinson's disease.
The work to develop a fast-acting, easy-to-administer autoinjector formulation will be based on an antidote called sulfanegen, which was recently developed and refined by Patterson as well as College of Pharmacy colleagues Robert Vince, director of the Center for Drug Design, and Herbert Nagasawa, adjunct professor. The formulation was patented with assistance from U of M Technology Commercialization. Related Stories
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