May 21, 2018

Common cold could be cured in just five years, say scientists

15 May 2018, 09:26 | Winifred Adams

No one is immune to the common cold but scientists believe they may be close to finding a cure

No one is immune to the common cold but scientists believe they may be close to finding a cure

A surface rendering of the common cold virus.

This is why there is no drug to fight against the virus.

The findings are reported in the journal Nature Chemistry.

Researchers at the Imperial College of London have developed a molecule that interferes with the rhinovirus' ability to create a protective shell necessary for it to replicate. All treatments against the cold are to treat the symptoms like a runny nose, fever or a sore throat.

This new molecule, however, completely blocked several strains of the virus without affecting human cells, but further studies are needed to make sure it is not in any way toxic to humans.

In particular, rhinoviruses are known to be the cause of acute upper respiratory tract infections and the common cold, in addition to worsening conditions like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and cystic fibrosis. Instead of considering the virus as the target, the new treatment will attack the human host which the cold virus needs. Without the protein shield, the virus's genetic heart of RNA is exposed and vulnerable - and the virus can not replicate. Additionally, the molecule also works against viruses related to the cold virus, such as polio and foot and mouth disease viruses.

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"A drug like this could be extremely beneficial if given early in infection, and we are working on making a version that could be inhaled, so that it gets to the lungs quickly", said lead researcher on the project, Prof Ed Tate.

The research showed that this molecule is over 100 times more potent than previous molecules targeting the protein in humans.

However, the discovery of a new molecule, code-named IMP-1088, offers a slightly different approach to the problem by treating the human cells.

"We haven't done any animal studies, and we obviously haven't done any studies in humans, so I can't tell you formally what the animal toxicity of this compound is", Solari says.

But while it is still early days in the Imperial College's research, there have been no such side effects from IMP-1088. In Vitro experiments have also found no sign of toxic effect on the treated cells.

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