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. If successful, a new drug could be available within seven years. This means it is very hard to pin down a drug that works against the virus. They reported the discovery in the journal Nature Chemistry. Most current cold treatments do no more than alleviate symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat, and fever.
This new molecule, however, completely blocked several strains of the virus without affecting human cells, but further studies are needed to make sure it is not in any way toxic to humans.
The lab tests on human cells showed that the molecule they used could effectively combat different strains of the virus.
The molecule the researchers created, IMP-1088, homes in on a protein in cells called N-myristoyltransferase (NMT).
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The new treatment worked within minutes on human lung cells and research leader Professor Ed Tate said he was "optimistic" his team have finally found a cure. The researchers believe that it could work against other related viruses, including those responsible for polio and foot-and-mouth disease.
The molecule targets a human protein and not the virus itself, making emergence of resistant viruses highly unlikely.
The molecule was initially discovered when searching for a way to take on malaria parasites.
While an uncomfortable nuisance for the vast majority of people, the common cold can be life-threatening for those living with serious illnesses and immune deficiencies.
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"We haven't done any animal studies, and we obviously haven't done any studies in humans, so I can't tell you formally what the animal toxicity of this compound is", Solari says.
Dr Peter Barlow of the British Society for Immunology said Imperial College's cold cure research showed great promise.
Researchers are now working on a drug that can be inhaled for people who have just started getting the sniffles. In Vitro experiments have also found no sign of toxic effect on the treated cells.
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