New treatment for cyanide poisoning developed
Current cyanide antidotes, including the compound hydroxocobalamin, are effective, but require administration through an intravenous infusion in order for them to be absorbed into the body. If large quantities of cyanide were to be released in an accident or as part of a terrorist attack, the use of such antidotes would be impractical, according to LiveScience.com.
Steven Patterson and his colleagues from the University of Minnesota Center for Drug Design created sulfanegen TEA, which can be introduced into the body through an intra-muscular injection similar to the type used to deliver epinephrine to those suffering from severe allergic reactions.
"You might imagine that you're a paramedic and there are multiple people exposed to cyanide, some of them may be convulsing, it may be very difficult to get the IV line in," Patterson said, LiveScience.com reports. "The antidote works by taking advantage of our natural biochemical processes, which are able to detoxify cyanide. What we do is provide the process present with the material it needs to convert cyanide into thiocyanate."
Thiocyanate is less toxic than cyanide and is expelled from the body in urine. Sulfanegen TEA is also considered toxic but sublethal. Patterson said that further experiments are needed to test the compound's efficacy against lethal cyanide doses.