Promising universal cure for the common cold targets human cell protein

Common cold

When a cold virus replicates, it takes a protein called N-myristoyltransferase (NMT) from host cells to build its capsid, a protein shell that surrounds the virus's genome. It's a family of viruses that evolve so quickly no one can ever be fully immune to the cold, and developing a vaccine that can tackle all of the variations of the virus is impossible.

Instead of attacking the virus, researchers at Imperial College London designed a drug that blocks a protein in the body's cells that cold viruses usually commandeer to self-replicate and spread. Additionally, the molecule also works against viruses related to the cold virus, such as polio and foot and mouth disease viruses.

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.

For now, there are a few other ways you can prevent or fight a cold.

Also, because the molecule targets human cells rather than the virus, resistance would not be an issue.

While IMP-1088 did not cause any harm to human cells in the laboratory, the researchers cautioned trials and further research were required to test its safety.

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This article has been republished from materials provided by Imperial College London. If successful, a new drug could be available within seven years.

The scientists were initially looking for a compound that would target a protein in malaria parasites.

Professor Ed Tate, who led the research, said: "A drug like this could be extremely beneficial if given early in infection, and we are working on making a version that could be inhaled, so that it gets to the lungs quickly". The team's findings were recently published in the journal Nature Chemistry. They found two compounds that seemed to work well together, so they combined them to make IMP-1088.

The researchers have high hopes for the drug, which now goes under the codename of IMP-1088.

In particular, rhinoviruses are known to be the cause of acute upper respiratory tract infections and the common cold, in addition to worsening conditions like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and cystic fibrosis.

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