Researchers from the Griffith Institute have combined 2 existing market drugs into what may be a potential treatment for human parainfluenza virus, according to a study published in the journal Nature’s Scientific Reports.

Mark von Itzstein, BSc, PhD, Director and Principal Research Leader, Institute for Glycomics at Griffith University in Southport, Queensland in Australia and colleagues used the antiparasitic Suramin, which is used to treat sleeping sickness, and combined it with the influenza drug zanamivir.  

“The drug inhibits viral replication in mammalian epithelial cells with an IC50 of 30 μM, when applied post-adsorption,” the researchers wrote in their study abstract. “Significantly, we show in cell-based drug-combination studies using virus infection blockade assays, that suramin acts synergistically with the anti-influenza virus drug zanamivir.”

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According to researchers, the dose of the drugs may be lowered because of their more powerful combination effects. “The fact that the compounds show synergism means that their concentration in combination yields an effect that is stronger than individual compounds at a similar or higher concentration,” Dr von Itzstein and colleagues wrote in the study. 

Parainfluenza hPIV-3 is the second most common cause of respiratory illness in infants after respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), according to the study. No currently approved treatments or vaccines exist.

Researchers at the Institute Pasteur Shanghai-Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai collaborated with researchers from the Griffith Institute on this study. 


1. Bailley B, Dirr L, El-Deeb IM et al. A dual drug regimen synergistically blocks human parainfluenza virus infection. Sci Rep 2016; 6:(21438) doi:10.1038/srep24138. Published April 7, 2016. Accessed April 12, 2016.