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The cold - could it become less common?

15 May 2018

Why is the common cold hard to tackle?

The rhinovirus family has more than a hundred variants, providing numerous different targets that have thwarted attempts to develop a common cold vaccine. This makes vaccination an impossibility and gives our immune system a challenging task. Even if one does work, the virus can quickly evolve to gain resistance to it.

For now, there are a few other ways you can prevent or fight a cold.

This article has been republished from materials provided by Imperial College London. They found two likely molecules and discovered that they were most effective when they were combined.

However a new molecule, developed by researchers at Imperial College London, targets N-myristoyltransferase (NMT), a protein in human cells.

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Laboratory tests showed how an experimental drug stopped the rhinovirus - the predominant cause of the common cold - hijacking a human protein to build the protective shell, or "capsid". NMT is vital for the survival of cold viruses; without it, they can not replicate and spread.

The lab studies suggest it could stop any cold virus in its tracks if it is administered early enough.

The trials found it also succeeded in killing multiple strains, including viruses related to polio and foot and mouth disease. Without the protein shield, the virus's genetic heart of RNA is exposed and vulnerable - and the virus can not replicate. The results of initial tests are published today in the journal Nature Chemistry.

The Imperial College team came up with the idea for IMP-1088 when they were looking for a way to target NMT in malaria parasites.

Professor Ed Tate, who led the research, said: "A drug like this could be extremely beneficial if given early in infection, and we are working on making a version that could be inhaled, so that it gets to the lungs quickly".

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However, the discovery of a new molecule, code-named IMP-1088, offers a slightly different approach to the problem by treating the human cells.

Also, earlier drugs created to block NMT were too toxic to be of benefit.

Another concern is outlined by Prof.

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.

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The cold - could it become less common?