UK scientists at Imperial College London believe they may have found a way to combat the common cold – and safety trials in people could start within two years.

The common cold has previously been difficult to treat due to the hundreds of versions of the virus that exist, as well as the speed at which it mutates. This means that it is almost impossible to become immune or vaccinated against all strains. The new potential cure, discovered by researchers recently, approaches this issue in a new way – targeting the human host instead of the virus itself in order to provide treatment.

A new approach to treating the common cold

The new treatment works by blocking a key protein in the body’s cells, usually hijacked by cold viruses in order to help them self-replicate and spread. Although there have been previous attempts to create drugs that target human cells, rather than the viruses themselves, many of these have proved unsuccessful due to having toxic effects on the human body. So far, tests around this new treatment show that the molecule can completely block several strains of the common cold virus, without affecting human cells.

Researchers have said that the new development worked within minutes of being applied to human lung cells. Professor Ed Tate, lead researcher from the Department of Chemistry at Imperial College London, said: “The common cold is an inconvenience for most of us, but can cause serious complications in people with conditions like asthma and COPD. 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.”

Further testing of the drug is now required to ensure that it is not toxic to the body, and the team hopes that they will be able to move to human trials within the next couple of years if they continue to see success.

FluCamp clinical trials

At FluCamp we couldn’t agree more that the common cold and flu viruses can be an incredible blight on the health of the population – particularly for those who suffer from other chronic illnesses like asthma. We conduct our clinical trials to help us understand how the body behaves when it encounters viruses like the common cold, with the hope that we will one day be able to eradicate them entirely. Find out more about our clinical trials, or apply to take part in one of our trials and join the ranks of our Everyday Heroes today.

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