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
(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.
 Bally B, Dirr L, El-Deeb IM et al. A dual drug regimen synergistically blocks human parainfluenza virus infection. Scientific Reports 2016;6:24138. doi: 10.1038/srep24138