It’s the bane of everyone’s existence – the common cold. Even during a heatwave there is no escaping exposure to the rhinoviruses suspected of causing colds, but scientists are making advances in studying the structures that leave us vulnerable.
A group of British scientists report in Nature Chemistry that they’ve isolated an enzyme found in cells that is critical to the spread of the virus through the body. If they can turn off the enzyme, their thinking goes, they can stop or prevent colds. Will this lead to a cure?
“Yes and no,” explains Dr. Melissa Aldrich, a scientist with McGovern Medical School at UT Health in Houston. “It is promising but has a long way to go.”
Dr. Aldrich says that the study of rhinoviruses is still a territory where discoveries are being made. “Within the last seven or eight years they discovered a new class of rhinoviruses that they didn’t even know existed. So the strategy that this team used, and the strategy that will have to be used, is to find what they all have in common.” And with that, someday, could come a cure for treatment and a vaccine similar to a flu shot for prevention. “When you think about it a cold is a type of flu. It’s caused by a rhinovirus and any kind of virus – theoretically – you can make a vaccine for it.”
A cold is a nuisance for most people, but for those suffering from cystic fibrosis or asthma it can be a serious health risk.