Common cold could be cured in just five years, say scientists

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

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

Last year, a group of European scientists announced they had found a way to decode encrypted signals in the genome of human Parechovirus, which is part of the family of viruses that cause the common cold.

When tested on human cells in a dish, the drug was found to block several strains of cold virus from replicating, without having any effect on the cells.

The problem with the common cold virus is that there are hundreds of different strains which are constantly evolving so even if the body develops immunity to one strain, there are hundreds more out there ready to attack.

Researchers at the Imperial College of London have developed a molecule that interferes with the rhinovirus' ability to create a protective shell necessary for it to replicate.

The drug is also hypothetically effective in dealing with polio and foot and mouth disease, which have similar viruses to the common cold.

Professor Ed Tate, the lead researcher from Imperial College London, said: "A drug like this could be... New drug treatments for this virus [are] therefore urgently needed". Without this protein shield, a virus's genetic material is exposed and vulnerable.

In particular, rhinoviruses are known to be the cause of acute upper respiratory tract infections and the common cold, in addition to worsening conditions like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and cystic fibrosis. Most current treatments do no more than alleviate symptoms such as runny nose, sore throat and fever.

Researchers are now working on a drug that can be inhaled for people who have just started getting the sniffles.

The research showed that this molecule is over 100 times more potent than previous molecules targeting the protein in humans.

The earlier attempts that were made to develop drugs that target human host rather than the virus have failed as they proved to be very risky. But some of the side effects were toxic.

But the good news is the research so far suggests IMP-1088 isn't toxic to our human cells - which cell inhibitors can sometimes be - meaning we've got a very promising candidate for potential human trials, which could begin in as little as two years.

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