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Imperial College London researchers have found a molecule that could provide cure to common cold

Imperial college london logoResearchers at Imperial College London have lab-tested a molecule that can combat the common cold virus by preventing it from hijacking human cells.

Early lab-based tests with human cells have displayed the molecule’s ability to completely block multiple strains of cold virus, which the team hope to move to animal and then human trials.

The common cold is caused by a family of viruses with hundreds of different varieties, making it nearly impossible to become immune to or vaccinate against all of the strains. In addition to this the viruses evolve rapidly, meaning they can quickly gain resistance to drugs.

As a result most cold remedies rely on treating the symptoms of the infection – such as runny nose, sore throat and fever as opposed to tackling the virus itself.

But the new molecule, developed by researchers at Imperial College London, targets N-myristoyltransferase (NMT), which is a protein in human cells. Viruses ‘hijack’ NMT from human cells to construct the protein ‘shell’, or capsid, which protects the virus genome.

All strains of the virus require this human protein to make new copies of themselves, so the molecule should work against all of them. Additionally, the molecule also works against viruses related to the cold virus, such as polio and foot and mouth disease viruses.

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

Lead researcher Professor Ed Tate, from the Department of Chemistry at Imperial, said: “The common cold is an inconvenience for most of us, but can cause serious complications in people with conditions like asthma and COPD.

“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.”

There have been many previous attempts to create drugs that target human cells rather than the viruses, but many have toxic side effects. Whereas the Imperial College London researchers showed that the new molecule completely blocked several strains of the virus without affecting human cell

Source: Imperial College London

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