The combination of cobinamide and sulfanegen is highly effective in mouse models of cyanide poisoning.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Clinical toxicology (Philadelphia, Pa.), Volume 49, Issue 5, p.366-73 (2011)


Animals, Antidotes, Cobamides, Cyanides, Cysteine, Disease Models, Animal, Drug Therapy, Combination, Male, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Prodrugs


CONTEXT: Cyanide is a component of smoke in residential and industrial fires, and accidental exposure to cyanide occurs in a variety of industries. Moreover, cyanide has the potential to be used by terrorists, particularly in a closed space such as an airport or train station. Current therapies for cyanide poisoning must be given by intravenous administration, limiting their use in treating mass casualties.

OBJECTIVE: We are developing two new cyanide antidotes--cobinamide, a vitamin B(12) analog, and sulfanegen, a 3-mercaptopyruvate prodrug. Both drugs can be given by intramuscular administration, and therefore could be used to treat a large number of people quickly. We now asked if the two drugs would have an augmented effect when combined.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We used a non-lethal and two different lethal models of cyanide poisoning in mice. The non-lethal model assesses neurologic recovery by quantitatively evaluating the innate righting reflex time of a mouse. The two lethal models are a cyanide injection and a cyanide inhalation model.

RESULTS: We found that the two drugs are at least additive when used together in both the non-lethal and lethal models: at doses where all animals died with either drug alone, the combination yielded 80 and 40% survival in the injection and inhalation models, respectively. Similarly, drug doses that yielded 40% survival with either drug alone, yielded 80 and 100% survival in the injection and inhalation models, respectively. As part of the inhalation model, we developed a new paradigm in which animals are exposed to cyanide gas, injected intramuscularly with an antidote, and then re-exposed to cyanide gas. This simulates cyanide exposure of a large number of people in a closed space, because people would remain exposed to cyanide, even after receiving an antidote.

CONCLUSION: The combination of cobinamide and sulfanegen shows great promise as a new approach to treating cyanide poisoning.

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