Thursday, 18 October, 2018

Why scientists are close to finding a cure for the common cold

No one is immune to the common cold but scientists believe they may be close to finding a cure No one is immune to the common cold but scientists believe they may be close to finding a cure
Ben Pena | 15 May, 2018, 15:30

The problem with the common cold virus is that there are hundreds of different strains which are constantly evolving so even if the body develops immunity to one strain, there are hundreds more out there ready to attack. Instead, it shuts down the protein in human cells that the virus needs.

Using advanced techniques, they combined the two molecules and produced a new compound that blocks an enzyme found in human cells, called N-myristoyltransferase (NMT). Additionally, the molecule also works against viruses related to the cold virus, such as polio and foot and mouth disease viruses.

The Imperial College researchers reported that IMP-1088 blocked the common cold without affecting healthy cells.

Although dealing with a cold is not a huge issue for most people, there are good reasons to keep hunting for ways to fight it.

"The drug inhibits a host protein so the virus can not evade its force by mutation and is unable to evolve resistance".

"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", he added.

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Though other drugs that target human cells in this way have been trialed before, IMP-1088 is "more than 100 times more potent" than its predecessors.

The medicinal chemistry team in the Tate group at Imperial, led by Dr Andy Bell (who previously invented Viagra as a researcher at Pfizer), were originally looking for compounds that targeted the protein in malaria parasites. Ed Tate, of Imperial College London in the United Kingdom.

But the new approach could be more successful because it does not target the virus directly.

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.

It's early days for the research, so far only tested out in a petri-dish, but the scientists on the project are hoping to swiftly move to animal and then human trials.

In particular, rhinoviruses are known to be the cause of acute upper respiratory tract infections and the common cold, in addition to worsening conditions like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and cystic fibrosis.

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