With the remains of a recent lottery winner having been exhumed for investigation of foul play related to cyanide poisoning, future winners might wonder what they can do to avoid the same fate. A new report in May 2013 issue of The FASEB Journal involving studies in zebrafish suggests that riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, may mitigate the toxic effects of this infamous poison. In addition, the report shows that zebrafish are a viable model for investigating the effects of cyanide on humans. As with any research involving animal models, these findings are preliminary until thoroughly tested in clinical trials. Anyone who suspects cyanide poisoning should not attempt to use riboflavin as an antidote, and instead should contact local poison control centers or emergency health services immediately."We are encouraged to see that many of the effects of cyanide on zebrafish mirror the effects on humans," said Randall Peterson, Ph.D., the senior author of the study and a research at the Harvard Medical School. "Hopefully, the cyanide biomarkers and antidotes we discover with the help of zebrafish can one day improve our ability to diagnose and treat humans affected by cyanide poisoning." To make this discovery, scientists exposed zebrafish to cyanide and measured the effects on their behavior, heart rate, and survival. The chemical changes that occurred were measured using a mass spectrometer. The effects in zebrafish were then compared to the effects of cyanide on rabbits and humans. Many of the effects in zebrafish matched those seen in rabbits and humans, confirming that the zebrafish could be used as a model of human cyanide exposure.
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