Molecule Prevents Common Cold Virus from Hijacking Human Cells

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Whenever someone gets the common cold, the available remedies will only treat the symptoms and not the virus itself. Most current cold treatments do no more than alleviate symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat, and fever. The viruses also tend to evolve and build up resistance against drugs rapidly.

This approach is also advantageous as the virus can not develop resistance when the drug only affects the human protein, added the researchers. Their study titled "Fragment-derived inhibitors of human N-myristoyltransferase (NMT) block capsid assembly and replication of the common cold virus" was published in the journal Nature Chemistry on May 14.

Until now it has been virtually impossible to vaccinate against cold virus because the condition is made of up a large family of different strains.

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Researchers are now working on a drug that can be inhaled for people who have just started getting the sniffles.

The new treatment developed at London's Imperial College blocks the protein, cutting off the infection at an early stage.

The trials found it also succeeded in killing multiple strains, including viruses related to polio and foot and mouth disease.

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The molecule targets a human protein and not the virus itself, making emergence of resistant viruses highly unlikely.

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. The researchers showed that the new molecule completely blocked several strains of the virus without affecting human cells.

The research team included the labs of Professor Roberto Solari and Professor Seb Johnston at Imperial's National Heart & Lung Institute, Dr Aurelie Mousnier from Imperial and Queen's University Belfast, structural biologists at the University of York, and colleagues at the Pirbright Institute. They found two likely molecules and discovered that they were most effective when they were combined.

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Previous efforts to create drugs that target human cells rather than infections have failed thanks to "toxic side effects". Ed Tate, of Imperial College London in the United Kingdom.

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