The cold - could it become less common?

The cold - could it become less common?

The common cold is caused by a family of viruses with hundreds of variants, making it almost impossible to become immune to or vaccinate against all of them. It targets a protein in human cells, known as N-myristoyltransferase (NMT), that viruses steal from human cells to create their protective capsid by preventing any fatty-acid attachment.

In over half of cases, common colds are caused by rhinoviruses, a family of viruses with over 100 different ever-evolving variants.

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. The researchers believe that it could work against other related viruses, including those responsible for polio and foot-and-mouth disease.

The new treatment worked within minutes on human lung cells and research leader Professor Ed Tate said he was "optimistic" his team have finally found a cure. To top it all, the viruses develop quickly which is why they tend to gain resistance to any drugs rapidly.

For these reasons, most cold remedies rely on treating the symptoms of the infection - such as runny nose, sore throat and fever - rather than tackling the virus itself.


The viruses can not become resistant to the molecule because it targets the human protein and not the virus. The researchers have made a molecule that has shown to the ability to block the multiple strains of the most common cold virus, rhinovirus.

The research, published in the Nature Chemistry journal today, states the latest step to combat the common cold.

The Imperial College researchers reported that IMP-1088 blocked the common cold without affecting healthy 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.

"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.

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