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U of Minnesota researchers earn patent for cyanide antidote

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: October 4th, 2017

Researchers at the University of Minnesota (U of M) have obtained a patent for a new antidote to address mass-casualty cyanide attacks.

Developed at the U of M Center for Drug Design by Steven Patterson, Herbert Nagasawa, Alexandre Monteil and the center’s director Robert Vince, Sulfanegen is an injectable, sodium-based antidote that can be administered rapidly, making it especially useful in the case of a mass cyanide attack in which emergency responders struggle to treat the many victims in time.

Large-scale releases of cyanide have been seen in attacks such as the Tokyo subway incident in 1995, in Chicago in 2002 and in New York the following year. Cyanide poisoning can also happen through industrial accidents, such as the 2015 explosion at a Chinese chemical plant.

Unlike current antidotes, which require a time-consuming intravenous drip, the U of M innovation can be quickly administered by first responders through a simple intra-muscular injection, taking effect in no more than three minutes.

The underlying technology behind Sulfanegen is an alternative method for cyanide detoxification. Traditionally, cyanide has been countered through a mix of chemicals to activate the detoxifying enzyme rhodanese. The U of M researchers have instead tapped into the similar properties of a different enzyme, 3-mercaptopyruvate sulfur transferase (3-MPST), which can also convert cyanide into a less harmful substance.

While 3-MPST has historically been considered unviable due to its instability, the researchers have tackled this problem with a sodium donor “prodrug” that interacts with the body’s naturally occurring 3-MPST to detoxify the poison.

Source: Twin Cities Business

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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