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What is suramin sodium?

Suramin sodium is no longer available in the United States.

Suramin sodium is an anti-neoplastic agent that has been used in the treatment of several infectious diseases, including African sleeping sickness (trypanosomiasis), a protozoan infection.  African sleeping sickness is caused by an infection of the protozoa Trypanosoma, which can be contracted from a bite from a tsetse fly. Suramin sodium treatment focuses on a particular stage of trypanosomiasis and is not effective if the protozoa has infected the central nervous system. Suramin sodium has also been used to treat river blindness, although it is now used less frequently for this purpose because of recent studies on its toxicity. River blindness, or onchocerciasis, is caused by a roundworm and can eventually lead to blindness. Research is also being done on suramin sodium's usefulness in treating people with different types of cancer.

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