100 years of suramin

Natalie Wiedemar, Dennis A. Hauser, Pascal Mäser

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

110 Citations (Scopus)
2841 Downloads (Pure)


Suramin is 100 years old and is still being used to treat the first stage of acute human sleeping sickness, caused by Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense. Suramin is a multifunctional molecule with a wide array of potential applications, from parasitic and viral diseases to cancer, snakebite, and autism. Suramin is also an enigmatic molecule: What are its targets? How does it get into cells in the first place? Here, we provide an overview of the many different candidate targets of suramin and discuss its modes of action and routes of cellular uptake. We reason that, once the polypharmacology of suramin is understood at the molecular level, new, more specific, and less toxic molecules can be identified for the numerous potential applications of suramin.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01168
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalAntimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
Issue number3
Early online date16 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2020


  • Human African trypanosomiasis
  • Polypharmacology
  • Sleeping sickness
  • Suramin
  • Trypanosoma brucei

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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