New substance could treat cyanide victims in mass casualty event

A discovery by researchers with the University of Minnesota Center for Drug Design may lead to an advance against terrorist attacks by creating a better antidote for cyanide poisoning.

Steven E. Patterson, a scientist with the university, and his team said that the only current antidotes for cyanide must be given by intravenous infusion. This procedure requires highly trained paramedical personnel and takes precious time, Medical News Today reports.

Cyanide is recognized as a high-risk substance for potential use by terrorists, in part, because it is a fast-acting poison. If the substance was involved in a mass casualty event, only a limited number of people could be saved.

Patterson's team sought to develop an antidote that could be administered via intramuscular injection, which is a simpler procedure that could be quickly administered to a large number of victims. The antidote could even be self-administered like the medication delivery system for allergy injection pens.

The research team discovered the substance sulfanegen TEA, which would not require intravenous infusion, Medical News Today reports.

"(Sulfanegen TEA) should be amenable for development as an IM injectable antidote suitable for treatment of cyanide victims in a mass casualty setting," the study said, according to Medical News Today. "Further development, including efficacy in lethal cyanide animal models, will be reported at a later date."