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.