Published: Tue, May 15, 2018
Medical | By

United Kingdom scientists may have cured the common cold

United Kingdom scientists may have cured the common cold

The common cold is caused by viruses with hundreds of variants, and these overwhelming numbers can hinder efforts to immunize or vaccinate ourselves against them. When a cold virus replicates, it takes a protein called N-myristoyltransferase (NMT) from host cells to build its capsid, a protein shell that surrounds the virus's genome.

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.

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 researchers believe that it could work against other related viruses, including those responsible for polio and foot-and-mouth disease.

"The common cold is an inconvenience for most of us but can cause serious complications in people with conditions like asthma and COPD", explained lead researcher Ed Tate, a professor from the Department of Chemistry at Imperial College.

Whenever someone gets the common cold, the available remedies will only treat the symptoms and not the virus itself.

"The drug inhibits a host protein so the virus can not evade its force by mutation and is unable to evolve resistance". "New drug treatments for this virus [are] therefore urgently needed".


The molecule targets a human protein and not the virus itself, making emergence of resistant viruses highly unlikely.

"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".

This article has been republished from materials provided by Imperial College London.

The scientists were initially looking for a compound that would target a protein in malaria parasites.

The research team will next test the drug in animal trials before moving on to humans. They found two likely molecules and discovered that they were most effective when they were combined.

Previous attempts to create drugs that target human cells rather than the virus have proven to be failures, while also showing themselves to be toxic.

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