University of Minnesota licenses cyanide antidote to Vytacera

Monday, February 13, 2012 03:46 PM

The University of Minnesota has licensed Sulfanegen, an antidote for cyanide poisoning, to California start-up Vytacera Pharma.

The antidote, developed by the university’s Center for Drug Design, is the first cyanide treatment that is both quick-acting and via intra-muscular injection, as opposed to an intravenous injection that takes 20 minutes to take effect. Cyanide poisoning can result from the inhalation of hydrogen cyanide in smoke when certain plastics and household items are burned.

If approved by the FDA, Vytacera will develop and market Sulfanegen. The treatment could be administered by first responders in the case of a mass casualty emergency, or to victims of smoke inhalation from a house fire.

“Sulfanegen can be administered rapidly by intra-muscular injection, so emergency responders could treat people faster. And it takes far less skill to use an auto-injector than it does for an intravenous injection,” said Steve Patterson, co-inventor and associate director of the university’s Center for Drug Design.

The antidote also functions as a prophylactic, and could protect firefighters or emergency personnel if taken prior to cyanide exposure.

Sulfanegen has rapid approval potential under the FDA Animal Rule, which holds that only animal efficacy experiments and phase I safety clinical trials are required for regulatory approval; the compound already has demonstrated safety and efficacy in several animal models.

“We intend to move forward as rapidly as financing and regulations permit,” said Jon S. Saxe, chair of Vytacera. “Our goal is to make this important advance available to those in need of it.”

The technology was licensed exclusively to Vytacera by the university’s Office for Technology Commercialization.

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