Advanced science.  Applied technology.


SwRI receives $4.4 million contract to develop a drug formulation and delivery system to treat cyanide exposure

Sept. 15, 2011 — Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®) was awarded a $4.4 million contract from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to develop a nasal-delivery, first-line treatment system to combat cyanide poisoning.

Current treatments approved by the Food and Drug Administration for cyanide poisoning must be administered intravenously by qualified medical personnel. The development of a nasal formulation could potentially save lives by allowing a metered dosage to be administered immediately in the field.

"The goal of this effort is to successfully develop a supply and nasal formulation of amyl nitrite," said Dr. Joe McDonough, principal investigator and director of SwRI's Microencapsulation and Nanomaterials Department. "Amyl nitrite is relatively low cost, easily administered and broadly effective.

"Amyl nitrite can be administered intra-nasally by an individual to rapidly treat large numbers of casualties quickly and effectively. The amyl nitrite, supplied in a simple nasal delivery system, could easily be used to treat numerous victims by simple nasal instillation, and is very well suited even for self administration."

The Institute will demonstrate the safety and efficacy against cyanide exposure in two animal models to clarify a development strategy for amyl nitrite with FDA.

The contract, awarded August 30, has a 15-month base period through December 2012 with options to extend an additional 4 years and up to $21 million.

For more information about medicinal chemistry and drug development at SwRI, please visit

For more information, contact Tracey M.S. Whelan, (210) 522-2256, Communications Department, Southwest Research Institute, 6220 Culebra Road, San Antonio, TX 78238-5166.