Experimental cold treatment offers ‘complete protection’ from virus

·2-min read
Woman sneezing behind a window, using a tissue.
Could we find a cure for the cold? (Getty)

Many of us spend a lot of money on cold remedies that don’t really work - but a new treatment could stop the virus in its tracks.

In tests on mice and human lung cells, it gave ‘complete protection’ against the virus - although it’s not yet ready for human trials.

It’s a radically different approach to targeting the virus, which comes in hundreds of different versions, making it difficult to treat.

Instead of targeting the virus directly, the researchers targeted a protein in cells which allow the virus to replicate, the BBC reported.

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The scientists created genetically modified mice with the protein, called methyltransferase SETD3, switched off - and they were protected against the virus.

The researchers now hope to develop drugs which mimic the genetic reaction, essentially making the human body an inhospitable place for the cold virus.

Associate professor Jan Carette, from Stanford said: “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.

“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.”

Scientists could be on the verge of curing the common cold (Getty Images)
Scientists could be on the verge of curing the common cold (Getty Images)

Writing in The Conversation in 2018, Professor of Immunology and Infection Peter Barlow said scientists have a good chance of curing the common cold in the next decade - but that a cure would not be free from dangers.

He wrote: “When the day finally comes that science cracks the common cold, we will need to be extremely cautious. It is worth drawing a parallel with antibiotics: just as antibiotic resistance is an increasingly serious problem, the same thing can happen with viral treatments.

“It would therefore be unwise to start doling out the “cold cure” to everyone who has a cold.

“Instead, I would suggest keeping for those who need it most, such as asthmatics and those with compromised immune systems.

“The rest of us will probably have to keep fighting off colds the slower traditional way – boxes of tissues, the body’s natural defences and lots of hot drinks.”