Researchers believe that they have found a way to cure the common cold, along with another virus that can sometimes cause paralysis. They discovered that instead of attacking the cold virus directly, the scientists targeted an essential protein inside our cells that the virus needs in order to replicate.
By doing this method, it gave mice and human lung cells complete protection during experiments. The study does state however, that the US researchers are not ready for human trials any time soon.
Looking for ways to prevent the common cold has been a mystery and challenge in the world of medicine. The rhinovirus is the most common viral infectious agent in humans and the predominate cause of the common cold. It can cause sore throats, ear infections, and sinus infections, along with pneumonia and bronchitis. There are about 160 different strains of rhinovirus, and they can all easily mutate making the virus resistant to drugs quickly. But if we are able to teach our immune system to hide from the virus to begin with, then that will not be a problem!
The virus needs to attach itself to a host in order to replicate and spread. It is completely dependent on infecting another cell and using some of the parts inside. The research team at Stanford University and the University of California, San Francisco, found one of the components which the viruses were dependent upon and targeted it.
The research trials started with modifying human lung cells, then exposing them to a range of enteroviruses, including rhinoviruses along with more dangerous viruses as well that are closely related to polio. Every virus introduced were unable to replicate inside modified cells.
The study then moved to genetically modifying mice enabling them to not produce the protein that the virus would need to replicate. Researchers found that by lacking the protein, the mice were completely protected from viral infection. They found that the mice survived being exposed to all the viruses when they would usually die. These findings were published in the journal Nature Microbiology if you wish to learn more about the details of the study.
So what does this all mean for a cure available to humans?
While producing genetically modified humans is not an option, there are plans to find a drug that would have the ability to temporarily suppress the protein, which would ultimately provide protection.
“We have identified a fantastic target that all enteroviruses and rhinoviruses require and depend on. Take that away and the virus really has no chance,” said associate professor Jan Carette from the Stanford research team. “This is a really good first step – the second step is to have a chemical that mimics this genetic deletion.”
It is still uncertain what role the protein plays in the viral replication, but they plan on doing more research. And even though the common cold is usually a mere inconvenience, this breakthrough will open doors to possibly curing several other types of viruses.
Avoid the cold season this year with these hot tips found in the following link: “Cold and Flu Season: What’s Hugging Got to Do With It?”