SRI developing nasal-delivery cyanide treatment

The Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio was recently awarded $4.4 million to develop a nasal-delivery version of a treatment for cyanide poisoning.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, which awarded the grant, views cyanide a potential bioterror threat, according to

Currently, the only Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs for cyanide poison must be injected with the assistance of trained medical workers.

"The goal of this effort is to successfully develop a supply and nasal formulation of amyl nitrite," Dr. Joe McDonough, the principal investigator and director of SwRI's microencapsulation and nanomaterials department, said, reports. "Amyl nitrite is relatively low cost, easily administered and broadly effective. [It] can be administered intra-nasally by an individual to rapidly treat large numbers of casualties quickly and effectively

The amyl nitrite, supplied in a simple nasal delivery system, could easily be used to treat numerous victims by simple nasal instillation and is very well suited even for self administration.

In order to work its way towards developing a safe and effective vaccine for humans, the research and development group plans to conduct two studies in animal models in the near future, reports.

The BARDA contract runs for two years, with an option for four more years and an additional $21 million.