Health Care

United Kingdom scientists may have cured the common cold

United Kingdom scientists may have cured the common cold”

The test drug completely blocked several strains of cold virus without appearing to harm the human cells in the lab.

Viruses typically "hijack" NMT from human cells to construct the capsid - or protein shell - to protect the virus genome.

Because this kind of strategy targets the human protein that helps the virus replicate it means that any treatment developed should be effective against different strains of the virus that emerge, making this a truly universal common cold cure.

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.

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.

Researchers at Imperial College London believe they've found a molecule that can block multiple strains of the cold by targeting a protein the virus needs to survive.

Rather than attacking the virus itself, which comes in hundreds of versions, the treatment targets the human host.

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)".

"While this study was conducted entirely in vitro, i.e using cells to model rhinovirus infection in the laboratory, it shows great promise in terms of eventually developing a drug treatment to combat the effects of this virus in patients". Further studies are needed to make sure it is not toxic in the body though.

Roberto Solari, visiting Fellow at the National Heart & Lung Institute, says he's reasonably optimistic.

The molecule the researchers created, IMP-1088, homes in on a protein in cells called N-myristoyltransferase (NMT).

They screened a large volume of different compounds looking for a molecule that specifically targeted NMT. They found two compounds that seemed to work well together, so they combined them to make IMP-1088.

The research team will next test the drug in animal trials before moving on to humans.

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