Experimental compound shown to block effects of multiple harmful drugs

When someone overdoses on opioid drugs, a medication called naloxone can save their life by quickly mitigating the effects of the narcotics. A new chemical shows promise for serving a similar role, but it also works on non-opioid drugs.

Known as Pillar[6]MaxQ (P6AS), the chemical was first announced in 2020. It was developed at the University of Maryland, by a team led by Prof. Lyle Isaacs and former post-doctoral associate Weijian Xue. Now, Isaacs and colleagues have tested it on lab animals for the first time.

P6AS is a type of “molecular container” chemical compound. Once injected into the bloodstream, it binds with the molecules of certain other compounds and sequesters them into its central cavity, where they’re surrounded by an outer layer of water. Doing so alters their chemical, physical and biological qualities, blocking their effects on the body.

In tests performed on lab mice, P6AS proved to be highly effective at mitigating the effects of fentanyl – which is an opioid – but also on methamphetamine, which is not. It additionally performed well at neutralizing non-opioid drugs such as PCP, ecstasy and mephedrone. The captured drug molecules were subsequently passed in the urine – a process which P6AS may also facilitate.

It should be noted that in the case of methamphetamine dosing, P6AS had to be injected within five minutes in order to be effective. In most real-world scenarios, that would likely be too small of a window. When it came to fentanyl, however, P6AS worked when injected up to 15 minutes after the opioid was administered.

The scientists are now working on lengthening those times, for opioids and non-opioids alike. It will likely be several years before P6AS is available for general use.

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Chem.

Source: University of Maryland

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