Why scientists are close to finding a cure for the common cold
Why scientists are close to finding a cure for the common cold
A new experimental drug may provide the first effective treatment for the common cold
15 May, 2018, 12:42
We often talk about the common cold like it's one illness caused by one germ, but in reality, a cold can be triggered by nearly 200 different viruses. NMT is vital for the survival of cold viruses; without it, they can not replicate and spread.
Producing a traditional vaccine for the common cold has proved to be a futile exercise but researchers at Imperial College may have discovered a novel new way to target the common cold and prevent its ability to replicate.
Like all viruses, the common cold virus enters the human body and then hijacks particular cells to duplicate itself.
Scientists have managed to strip the common cold virus of its armour, opening up the possibility of a cure. 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. The results of initial tests are published today in the journal Nature Chemistry.
"The common cold is an inconvenience for most of us, but can cause serious complications in people with conditions like asthma and COPD", Professor Ed Tate said.
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Though other drugs that target human cells in this way have been trialed before, IMP-1088 is "more than 100 times more potent" than its predecessors. In fact, it should also work against the related viruses that cause foot-and-mouth disease and polio.
They screened a large volume of different compounds looking for a molecule that specifically targeted NMT.
In London, Imperial College, researchers are working on a drug which is inhaled so that side effects would be reduced. The researchers showed that the new molecule completely blocked several strains of the virus without affecting human cells. Of course, more research will be needed to confirm that the drug is safe for use. 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.
Previous attempts to create drugs that target human cells rather than the virus have proven to be failures, while also showing themselves to be toxic.
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