Health & Fit Cure for common cold? 'Radical' treatment targets humans, not virus. And it works (so far)

15:56  17 may  2018
15:56  17 may  2018 Source:   usatoday.com

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Scientists are one step closer towards creating a cure for the common cold . The researchers have only conducted lab studies so far , and are hoping to test the molecule in animals and eventually humans .

Rather than attacking the virus itself, which comes in hundreds of versions, the treatment targets the human host. It blocks a key protein in the body’s cells that cold He said targeting the host rather than the infection was “a bit radical ” but made sense because the viral target was such a tricky one.

  Cure for common cold? 'Radical' treatment targets humans, not virus. And it works (so far) © PeopleImages/Getty Images British researchers at Imperial College London developed a common cold treatment that blocks a protein needed by cold strains to replicate.

A new cold treatment could thwart the virus by leaving it alone and targeting humans instead. The treatment, detailed Monday in Nature Chemistry, blocks a key protein in people that all cold strains need to replicate, upending the infection that's long vexed humanity.

And while a solution to the cold's runny nose and sneezing would be nice, the drug could make a life or death difference. That's according to Ed Tate, a chemist at Imperial College London, who worked on the treatment.

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The researchers have only conducted lab studies so far , and are hoping to test the molecule in animals and eventually humans . It is unclear when the treatment may be available. Scientists are one step closer towards creating a cure for the common cold (stock).

No cure for the common cold exists — but scientists have a hunch about what might work . The compound has so far been effective against 15 different viruses in cells and in mice. It works by entering all cells and then destroying those in which it detects a viral infection.

"This could be really helpful for people with health conditions like asthma, who can get quite ill when they catch a cold," Tate told the BBC, who called the treatment "a bit radical" for targeting the host, not the virus.

There are hundreds of versions of the cold virus, which the British researchers say makes broad vaccines impossible. And the virus also has a "rapid replication and high mutation rate," they note, meaning it adapts to drugs that target the virus itself.

But all cold viruses share a need for that specific human protein, researchers explain, known as N-myristoyltransferase, or NMT. Block that in humans, they suggest, and you should be able to upend all cold viruses. 

Early lab tests showed the treatment totally halted several cold strains, preventing the virus from latching onto NMT and copying itself to spread.

Those tests used human cells, however, the college notes: The team hopes to do animal and human trials later and ensure the treatment is not toxic to the human body. Human trials could start within two years, per the BBC.

"A drug like this could be extremely beneficial if given early in infection," Tate told the college, "and we are working on making a version that could be inhaled, so that it gets to the lungs quickly."

Follow Josh Hafner on Twitter: @joshhafner

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