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Drug repurposing

Existing drugs are effective against human parainfluenza virus

Study shows that suramin combined with zanamivir acts synergistically to inhibit human parainfluenza type-3 virus infection.

Micrograph of the human parainfluenza virus

Source: CDC

Human parainfluenza viruses (pictured) commonly cause respiratory illnesses in infants and young children

Human parainfluenza type-3 virus (hPIV-3) is the second most common cause of acute respiratory tract infection in infants, but there are currently no drugs or vaccines available against it.

Researchers from Griffith University in Queensland, Australia, explored whether existing drugs are able to target a particular receptor on the envelope surface of hPIV-3.

Through a screening process, they found that suramin, a drug commonly used for sleeping sickness in Africa, can inhibit hPIV-3 enzyme activity via this receptor. And when the researchers combined suramin with the anti-influenza drug zanamivir, they discovered the drugs act synergistically to inhibit hPIV-3 infection in vitro.

Writing in Scientific Reports[1] (online, 7 April 2016), the team say the findings show the potential of drug repurposing for treating parainfluenza and suggest that treating patients with both drugs together could allow lower doses to be used.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/CP.2016.20201000

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Supplementary images

  • Micrograph of the human parainfluenza virus

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