Attacking the common cold by unshielding its genome

The average person spends 2.5 years of their life suffering from cold

Millions of people every year also receive unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions from doctors for the common cold making it a major source of our growing antibiotic resistance problem.

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

Lead researcher Professor Ed Tate, from Imperial College London, said: "The common cold is an inconvenience for most of us, but can cause serious complications in people with conditions like asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)".

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. 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.

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. Additionally, the molecule also works against viruses related to the cold virus, such as polio and foot and mouth disease viruses.

The viruses can not become resistant to the molecule because it targets the human protein and not the virus.

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.

The rhinovirus family has more than a hundred variants, providing numerous different targets that have thwarted attempts to develop a common cold vaccine. The viruses also evolve quickly to become resistant to anti-viral drugs. "New drug treatments for this virus [are] therefore urgently needed". The scientists found they were able to block replication of several strains of the virus without human cells being affected.

Users would have to take the drug early on in a cold infection, and the researchers are working on a version which could be inhaled.

Previous studies have focused on human cells and not directly targeting the virus.

They applied the drug to human lung cells in the lab and it worked within minutes!

The results of the first tests were published today in the journal Nature Chemistry.

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