WASHINGTON, March 12, 2013 — The latest episode in the American Chemical Society’s (ACS’) award-winning Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions podcast series describes a new advance toward closing a major gap in defenses against terrorist attacks and other mass casualty events. Scientists are reporting discovery of a promising substance that could be the basis for development of a better antidote for cyanide poisoning. The potential antidote could be self-administered, much like the medication delivered by allergy injection pens.
In the new episode, Patterson explains that the only existing antidotes for cyanide — recognized as a high-risk substance for potential use by terrorists — must be administered by intravenous infusion, or an “IV.” That procedure requires highly trained paramedical personnel and takes time. Cyanide, however, is a fast-acting poison. In a situation involving mass casualties, only a limited number of victims could be saved with IV medication. Patterson's team thus sought an antidote that could be administered by intra-muscular (IM) injection, a simpler procedure that could be administered rapidly to a large number of victims or even be self-administered.
Their report describes discovery of a substance, sulfanegen TEA, “which should be amenable for development as an IM injectable antidote suitable for treatment of cyanide victims in a mass casualty setting. Further development, including efficacy in lethal cyanide animal models, will be reported at a later date.”
Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions is a series of podcasts describing some of the 21st century’s most daunting problems, and how cutting-edge research in chemistry matters in the quest for solutions. Global Challenges is the centerpiece in an alliance on sustainability between ACS and the Royal Society of Chemistry. Global Challenges is a sweeping panorama of global challenges that includes dilemmas such as providing a hungry and thirsty world with ample supplies of safe food and clean water, developing alternatives to petroleum to fuel society, preserving the environment and ensuring a sustainable future for our children and improving human health.