In Study, Scientists Block Common Cold Virus From Causing Illness

Human trials have not yet been approved, but researchers have given “complete protection” to mice and human lung cells.

Researchers have begun approaching the common-cold challenge differently, instead targeting an essential protein inside our cells which the viruses need to replicate, according to BBC.

The majority of colds are caused by rhinoviruses and can easily mutate to become resistant to drugs, or learn to hide from the immune system. Around 160 different types have been recorded, making trying to attack them directly difficult.

“Host-directed therapy”, which essentially means making our bodies unlivable environments for the cold viruses, has been further researched.

A team at Stanford University and the University of California, San Francisco, found that the viruses are depended on a protein (called methyltransferase SETD3) and created genetically modified mice which were unable to produce it.

“Lacking that gene protected the mice completely from viral infection,” associate professor Jan Carette, from Stanford, told BBC.

“We have identified a fantastic target that all enteroviruses and rhinoviruses require and depend on. Take that away and the virus really has no chance,” he added.

“This is a really good first step - the second step is to have a chemical that mimics this genetic deletion. I think development can go relatively quickly.”

Although U.S.-based researchers are not ready for trials in people, their plan is to create a drug that can temporarily suppress the protein in order to provide protection.

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