Medicine

Can Drug Target Cure Common Cold?

Can Drug Target Cure Common Cold?

Scientists in the United Kingdom have developed a new molecule that prevents viruses responsible for the sickness from replicating inside human cells - and if further testing confirms the compound is safe, we could be looking at the unthinkable: a cure.

"Because the inhibitor targets proteins that are common to most types of rhinovirus, it would likely have a broad range of activity", Peter Barlow, an immunologist and spokesperson for the British Society for Immunology who was not involved in the work, tells Newsweek.

Of course, while we might call it the common cold, that oversimplified name doesn't really do justice to the more than 200 different virus strains forever vying to seize hold of your throat, chest, nose, and patience.

But researchers in the United Kingdom have identified the protein in human cells - N-myristoyltransferase (NMT) - that the virus needs to copy itself.

Solari said that is important, since the virus uses the enzyme to assemble the protein coat which surrounds the genetic material of the virus.

From the sniffling and sneezing to the stuffiness and overall ickiness, the common cold is often just annoying. The early tests also suggest that the drug causes no harm to host cells.

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Since all viruses use NMT in the same way, the team expects IMP-1088 would translate to any other strains as well.

"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]", said lead researcher Ed Tate, from Imperial College London's department of chemistry.

The rhinovirus family has more than 100 variants, meaning that developing a vaccine has proved elusive. The viruses also tend to evolve and build up resistance against drugs rapidly.

But the new approach could be more successful because it does not target the virus directly.

Tate acknowledges the radical nature of targeting the human body instead of the virus itself. So far the new molecule completely blocked several strains of the virus without affecting human cells. The team is now looking forward to starting animal and human trials. Studies show it has worked in the lab to stop the cold virus.


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