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15 May 2018, 03:29 | Melissa Porter
The average person spends 2.5 years of their life suffering from cold
The Imperial College researchersreported that IMP-1088 blocked the common cold without affecting healthy cells. All treatments against the cold are to treat the symptoms like a runny nose, fever or a sore throat. This new drug, however, did not damage cultured human cells.
Also, because the molecule targets human cells rather than the virus, resistance would not be an issue.
The drug works by suppressing a human enzyme that cold viruses use to construct their capsids - the armoured outer shell of a virus.
We often talk about the common cold like it's one illness caused by one germ, but in reality, a cold can be triggered by nearly 200 different viruses.
Users would have to take the drug early on in a cold infection, and the researchers are working on a version which could be inhaled.
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. In fact, it should also work against the related viruses that cause foot-and-mouth disease and polio.
"The common cold is an inconvenience for most of us, but can cause serious complications in people with conditions like asthma and COPD", said lead researcher Ed Tate, a professor of chemistry at Imperial College, in the statement.
The molecule targets a human protein and not the virus itself, making emergence of resistant viruses highly unlikely.
"All strains of the virus need this same human protein to make new copies of themselves, so the molecule should work against all of them", Dr Jim Brannigan, from the University of York's Department of Chemistry, said in a statement.
However, the discovery of a new molecule, code-named IMP-1088, offers a slightly different approach to the problem by treating the human cells. Further study is needed to make sure it is not toxic in the body.
Roberto Solari, visiting Fellow at the National Heart & Lung Institute, says he's reasonably optimistic.
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