Feds back nasal med for cyanide poisoning

The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) has awarded $4.4 million to the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonio to develop a nasal-delivery version of a cyanide poisoning treatment.

Cyanide, which is found in some foods and cigarette smoke, is on the watch list of poisons that could be used in a chemical attack. The only FDA-approved drugs against cyanide poisoning are injected and require the assistance medical workers. The SwRI plans to develop amyl nitrite for delivery into the nasal passages in metered doses, providing a potential self-administered treatment against cyanide poisoning, according to the group's press release.

"The goal of this effort is to successfully develop a supply and nasal formulation of amyl nitrite," Dr. Joe McDonough, principal investigator and director of SwRI's microencapsulation and nanomaterials department, said in a statement. "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 R&D outfit aims to conduct studies in two animal models as it works its way toward developing the product for humans. After the current contract period ends in December 2012, BARDA has the option to funnel up to $21 million more for an additional four years. The authority's portfolio of development projects includes treatments for radiation sickness and anthrax poisoning.

- here's the release