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 MaxQ, 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. 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.
When it came to fentanyl 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.