A cure for the common cold
Scientists are closing in on a cure for one of the most widespread infectious diseases in the world: the common cold. Most adults catch a few colds each year, suffering from congestion, sore throat, and achiness; children are even more susceptible. While decongestants and other remedies can help ease symptoms, a cure for the infection has proved elusive, in large part because the common cold is caused by hundreds of different strains of the virus, which mutate rapidly and become resistant to drugs. But scientists at Imperial College London have developed a drug that appears to overcome that problem. Rather than attacking the virus itself, the drug prevents the infective agent from binding to a protein in human cells—a protein that cold viruses need in order to replicate and spread. Early lab tests show that the treatment effectively neutralizes several strains of cold virus within minutes, without harming the human cells. “A drug like this could be extremely beneficial if given early in infection,” lead researcher Ed Tate tells New Scientist. “Even if the cold has taken hold, it still might help lessen the symptoms.” Tate and his team are now working on a form of the drug that could be inhaled, to quicken its passage to the lungs. But they caution that more studies are needed to confirm that the treatment isn’t harmful to the body.