Scientists Develop Common Cold Cure

Grant Boone
May 15, 2018

By contrast, the new molecule successfully blocked the several strains it was trialed against without damaging the human cells.

The findings are reported in the journal Nature Chemistry.

It blocks a key protein in the body's cells that cold viruses normally hijack to self-replicate and spread.

They applied the drug to human lung cells in the lab and it worked within minutes!

Any virus needs this same human protein to make new copies of itself and, as this new molecule can target NMT, it can work against the common cold.

However, a major breakthrough achieved by a team from Imperial College London could help pave the way for an actual cure by stopping the virus before it can even develop.

Caused by a family of viruses with hundreds of variants, it is almost impossible to treat, as no single vaccination exists against it, meaning people resort to treating the symptoms rather than the virus itself.

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.

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The drug may also work against other related viruses, including those responsible for polio and foot-and-mouth disease, say the scientists.

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

The Imperial College London researchers were working on making a form of the drug that could be inhaled, to reduce the chance of side effects.

The new molecule, codenamed IMP-1088, targets a mechanism that all strains of the cold virus use, however, raising the possibility of a universally effective treatment.

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

The medicinal chemistry team in the Tate group at Imperial, led by Dr Andy Bell (who previously invented Viagra as a researcher at Pfizer), were originally looking for compounds that targeted the protein in malaria parasites.

However, the safety of the drug will not be established for sure until it has undergone human trials. They found two compounds that seemed to work well together, so they combined them to make IMP-1088.

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