A new drug may help put the brakes on poison ivy rashes. Each year, nearly 50 million Americans develop a reaction to poison ivy and this results in more than 7 million visits to doctors.

Hapten Sciences Inc. of Memphis, Tenn., has licensed a compound developed by ElSohly Laboratories Inc. and University of Mississippi pharmaceutical researchers to prevent reactions to poison ivy, oak and sumac. The compound, HPT-721, contains chemical derivatives of urushiol, which is the oily substance in the plants that causes dermatitis. HPT-721 is water-soluble and has demonstrated long-term stability in aqueous solution. The plan is to develop the agent as an intramuscular injection. Next researchers aim to complete a final formulation analysis, refine manufacturing processes and conduct toxicology studies.

Hapten plans to file an Investigational New Drug Application with the FDA and begin clinical trials in 2012.

For more information about Hapten Sciences, visit www.haptensciences.com

 [Photo courtesy of www.poison-ivy.org]