Breakthrough in hunt for common cold cure

Common cold cure on horizon after new drug successfully kills multiple strains of the virus

Until now it has been virtually impossible to vaccinate against cold virus because the condition is made of up a large family of different strains.

One of the most common classes, however, is rhinoviruses.

Researchers at Imperial College in London are developing a way to outsmart the common cold virus by using a molecule that doesn't target the virus at all.

Early studies in the lab are promising but it still needs to be tested in animal and human studies before it could hit the market. When a cold virus replicates, it takes a protein called N-myristoyltransferase (NMT) from host cells to build its capsid, a protein shell that surrounds the virus's genome.

According to MedlinePlus, a fever of 100°F or higher, cough, fatigue, a runny nose, and a sore throat are symptoms that you already have the virus. The molecule could also work against the poliovirus and the virus that causes foot and mouth disease.

This approach is also advantageous as the virus can not develop resistance when the drug only affects the human protein, added the researchers.

Still, this is exciting research that could lead to a fast antiviral treatment that stops the common cold in its tracks, regardless of the strain.

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Caused by a family of viruses with hundreds of variants, it is almost impossible to treat, as no single vaccination exists against it, meaning people resort to treating the symptoms rather than the virus itself. On top of that, the viruses evolve rapidly, meaning they can quickly gain resistance to drugs.

"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", he added.

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

By targeting the human protein and not the virus itself, the molecule makes the emergence of resistant viruses highly unlikely. However, further studies are needed to ensure that the drug is not toxic in the body.

The findings are reported in the journal Nature Chemistry.

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

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