Is there a Common Cold Cure on the Horizon?

Armen Hareyan's picture

US scientists may have found a way to block one of the primary viruses that causes cold symptoms in adults. Their preliminary\nresearch has successfully stopped viruses from binding with human cells in a test tube.


As you might imagine, if a virus cannot bind with a cell, then it follows that it won't be able to enter the cell and reproduce. This should do a pretty good job of stoping the virus cold (no pun intended)!

Don't plan on calling your Doctor and requesting a "Cold Shot" or any other common cold cure any time soon, however. Researchers are quick to point out that they have a long way to go yet. After all, conditions in a test tube are not the same as conditions that exist in the average nose.

According to a report from the US Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, as published in the Journal Science, researchers have successfully modified the bacterium E.coli, which is none to cause food poisoning in some forms, so that it mimicked the cell protein which joins with the virus.

Supposedly, this is the first step to creating a common cold cure vaccine that would make viruses bind to these "fake" cells rather than the body's normal cells.

One biologist involved in the project, Paul Fremont, said: "Viruses have to bind to cells in order to infect them. "If you could interrupt that binding, the virus would be dead in the water."

The virus at the centre of this work was the adenovirus, which accounts for less than 50% of human cold infections.


The vaccine would work in the same way as the antibodies naturally produced by the body's immune system, but work more quickly to as a common cold preventive and a common cold cure.

Similar research is also being carried out in hopes to provide cures for cancer and lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis which spread throughout the body in a similar way to the common cold.

The Common Cold Centre, based at the University of Wales in Cardiff, has conducted similar research on rhino viruses, which cause between 30 and 40% of colds.

So, while more serious ailments continue to plague our population, it's good to know that someone is working hard to find a common cold cure.


Copyright 2004, Jan Pollack

Jan Pollack is a staff writer at and is interested in ways to improve the immune system.

Jan Pollack