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Effective agent against colds discovered for the first time?


Will there be no more colds soon?

Everyone has certainly had a cold at least once in their life. As soon as a cold is on the way, sufferers look for ways and means to get rid of it as quickly as possible. Researchers have now developed an active ingredient that works quickly and effectively against cold viruses. This agent is able to block a protein in the human body that the causative agents of the cold need to multiply.

In their current investigation, the scientists at Imperial College London discovered that a special active ingredient could be used to treat colds in the future. This blocks a protein, which means that the causative agents of a cold can no longer multiply. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Nature Chemistry".

What distinguishes a cold?

Everyone has already experienced colds. Typical symptoms of such a disease include a runny nose, sore throat and constant cough. Treating a cold properly can be difficult. Despite all the medical advances, rest and chicken soup still seem to help treat the common cold.

Why is it difficult to treat a cold?

Treating a cold is so difficult because the disease can be caused by hundreds of different viruses. These are primarily representatives of the so-called rhinoviruses. It is almost impossible to vaccinate against all different viruses. Such a drug could work effectively on certain strains of pathogens, but could do absolutely nothing on others. In summary, it can be said that viruses can develop, change and adapt quickly. Therefore, it is easy for them to develop suitable resistances, the doctors explain.

It is not possible to treat the cause of the cold

At this time, only the symptoms of a cold can be addressed, but it is not possible to treat the cause of a cold. The cold itself has to be overcome by our immune system. Apparently, however, we can make our body so inhospitable to the viruses of a cold that they can no longer multiply. The new active ingredient does just that: it prevents the so-called rhinoviruses from multiplying.

What does IMP-1088 do?

When a cold enters our body, it attacks a human protein cell called N-myristoyl transferase (NMT) and produces a shell that protects the virus as it replicates. The research team has discovered that a molecule called IMP-1088 is able to block a key step in the assembly of this shell, thereby preventing it from replicating. All viruses have a similar approach and use NMT in the same way, so there is hope that IMP-1088 will also work with other strains, the scientists explain.

Where does IMP-1088 come from?

The IMP-1088 molecule was composed by the physicians from two already known chemical components. Combined, they are able to inhibit a human protein called N-myristoyl transferase (NMT). Without this protein, classic cold viruses cannot multiply or survive in the host cell. Tests in the current study have already confirmed that the newly developed active ingredient blocks the protein in such a way that it cannot continue to multiply. The replication of so-called rhinoviruses is completely prevented, say the experts.

No side effects noted

The drug IMP-1088 also does not appear to have any dangerous side effects. A possible toxicity, which affects the cells, could not be determined, explain the doctors. Many approaches to treating colds have already failed due to such or similar side effects. The newly developed drug only attacks the human protein, but the viruses themselves are initially spared. The approach to human protein makes it less likely that the treated viruses will become resistant to the agent over time, the scientists add.

People with asthma or COPD benefit from the drug

For most people, a cold is of course not really threatening, it is usually dismissed as a trifle. However, a simple cold can cause serious problems in people with certain conditions, such as asthma and COPD, says study author Edward Tate from Imperial College London. The new drug could be very useful for such people if given early in the infection.

More research is needed

So far, the experiments have been carried out on animals. The researchers hope that the results achieved in the future can be confirmed in experiments on humans. The drug could then not only be used against cold viruses, but it would probably also work on related pathogens such as polioviruses or the trigger for hand, foot and mouth disease. (as)

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