Researchers at the University of Minnesota have announced the development of potential new antidotes for cyanide that can be taken by mouth rather than injection.
The development comes after researchers cited that there's an "alarming" lack of preparedness for terrorist attacks or other incidents involving release of the deadly poison.
Herbert Nagasawa and colleagues said that the current antidotes for cyanide poisoning need a series of intravenous drug injections, making them cumbersome and difficult to administer in incidents in which hundreds or thousands of people are exposed.
Researchers therefore said that there was 'urgent need' for a fast-acting, easy-to-use treatment that can be administered on a large scale.
The new compounds, which are chemically modified versions of 3-mercaptopyruvate, change cyanide into a nontoxic substance.
When researchers gave it orally to laboratory mice prior to cyanide exposure, the compounds prevented poisoning.
The study therefore stated, an oral drug that prevents cyanide poisoning is 'highly desirable for firefighters and other rescue workers responding to industrial and residential fires where the presence of cyanide in the smoke is life-threatening.'
"The new compounds can be produced in quantity for wide distribution to public health agencies for stockpiling to protect the populace in the event of a major cyanide disaster resulting from an industrial accident or terrorist activity," the study added.
The study will be published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.