Existing drugs could fight lethal viral infections

Researchers say repurposed drugs, such as bupicavaine, haloperidol and fluoxetine, could treat bunyavirus infection

Coloured transmission electron micro-graph of a group of bunyaviruses

Bunyaviruses are an emerging class of viruses that includes Hantaviruses and Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever virus. But there are no vaccines or antiviral therapies available to treat these infections, which can be fatal. 

Researchers from the UK have now shown that bunyaviruses require potassium channel activation to replicate, so they tested the effect of compounds that block potassium channels on the ability of bunyaviruses to infect cells. Furthermore, existing drugs that interfere with these channels, including bupivacaine, haloperidol and fluoxetine, were able to reduce the concentration of cells infected with bunyavirus. 

Reporting their findings in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (2016;291:3411-3422)
, the authors say that repurposing existing drugs in this way could allow us to rapidly respond to viral outbreaks using treatments with known safety profiles.


[1] Hover S, King B, Hall B, et al. Modulation of Potassium Channels Inhibits Bunyavirus Infection. Journal of Biological Chemistry 2016;291:3411-3422. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M115.692673.

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP, April 2016, Vol 8, No 4;8(4):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2016.20200849

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