Published: Tue, May 15, 2018
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Drug molecule brings cure for the common cold closer

Drug molecule brings cure for the common cold closer

Because this kind of strategy targets the human protein that helps the virus replicate it means that any treatment developed should be effective against different strains of the virus that emerge, making this a truly universal common cold cure. Viruses "hijack" NMT from human cells to construct the protein "shell", or capsid, which protects the virus genome.

The rhinovirus family has more than 100 variants, meaning that developing a vaccine has proved elusive.

Scientists at Imperial College in London have tested a treatment that targets human cells - rather than the virus itself. In fact, it should also work against the related viruses that cause foot-and-mouth disease and polio.

"The common cold is an inconvenience for most of us, but can cause serious complications in people with conditions like asthma and COPD", Professor Ed Tate said.

Researchers in the United Kingdom have identified a key protein in the body that allows the multiple viruses that cause a cold to spread through cells.

The findings are reported in the journal Nature Chemistry.


Users would have to take the drug early on in a cold infection, and the researchers are working on a version which could be inhaled.

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 viruses can not become resistant to the molecule because it targets the human protein and not the virus. Even if we grow immune, viruses evolve fast and the get resistant to drugs. Most current cold treatments do no more than alleviate symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat, and fever.

Previous studies have focused on human cells and not directly targeting the virus.

This article has been republished from materials provided by Imperial College London.

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. They found two compounds that seemed to work well together, so they combined them to make IMP-1088.

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