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A first-of-its-kind treatment for the life-threatening effects of cyanide poisoning will be developed soon. The treatment is needed because cyanide could be used as a chemical weapon against the United States.

The development will take place under an agreement between the HHS (US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response) and the Maryland-based company Emergent BioSolutions, a life sciences company which focuses on providing specialty products for civilian and military populations that address accidental, intentional, and naturally emerging public health threats.

The company announced that it has been awarded a contract valued at approximately $63

million by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to develop an antidote spray device for the treatment of known or suspected acute cyanide poisoning. The single-use intranasal spray device will deliver a stabilized form of isoamyl nitrite (SIAN) and is intended for use by first responders and medical personnel following a cyanide incident, according to the company’s website.

Under the five-year contract, Emergent will work together with Southwest Research Institute, an independent, nonprofit applied R&D organization headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, to advance the development of SIAN towards licensure, including completing regulatory activities required to submit an Investigational New Drug (IND) application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to enable first-in-human studies, conducting initial clinical studies, and advancing non-clinical and Chemistry, Manufacturing, and Controls development activities.

This contract is funded by BARDA, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“Emergent has a successful history of developing medical countermeasures that address the U.S. government’s top priority public health threats,” said Sean Kirk, senior vice president at Emergent BioSolutions. “We are committed to fulfilling BARDA’s requirements for an easily-administered treatment for acute cyanide poisoning, in collaboration with Southwest Research Institute. The development of the intranasal SIAN device will expand the company’s portfolio of novel devices to combat chemical threats. We are excited about the potential of this product candidate to meet the needs of both the government and commercial markets.”