Scientists Find Unique Way To Stop Common Cold, Give ‘Complete Protection’

You may soon be able to stop a common cold before it hits you. Researchers discovered a new approach that prevents the virus from spreading and gives "complete protection" against the viral infection.  

Rhinoviruses commonly cause colds in humans. However, the scientific community has been struggling to prevent infections because of the 160 different types of viruses and their ability to rapidly become resistant to drugs and stay undetected by the immune system.

The study, published in the journal Nature Microbiology, states the new approach promises to prevent rhinovirus-caused colds in the future. Using "host-directed therapy," the team was able to attack a specific protein that viruses use to replicate.

A virus infects other cells to steal some of their parts to spread in the body. But the therapy makes the body inhospitable for the common cold-causing viruses, the BBC reported Monday

The researchers at Stanford University and the University of California, San Francisco, said by turning off the protein, called methyltransferase SETD3, viruses lost their capability to replicate inside cells. 

SETD3 mainly works in the scaffolding inside of the body's cells, called the cytoskeleton. But the researchers said switching off the protein will not cause negative effects. 

In tests with mice, genetically modified animal subjects remained healthy despite lacking SETD3 for their entire lives. 

"Lacking that gene protected the mice completely from viral infection," Jan Carette, an  associate professor from Stanford, told the BBC. "These mice would always die [without the mutation], but they survived and we saw a very strong reduction in viral replication and very strong protection."

The research team also tested their new therapy on human cells. They exposed the cells to enteroviruses, including rhinoviruses, to see if the same effect that occurred on mice would happen on humans. 

Results showed that turning off SETD3 also prevented the viruses from replicating and helped block common cold. Another surprising finding is that the approach also prevented other dangerous viruses, including those that have been linked to polio and paralysis.

Researchers suggest to use their approach to develop a new drug that could temporarily suppress the protein and stop the common cold. 

"We have identified a fantastic target that all enteroviruses and rhinoviruses require and depend on. Take that away and the virus really has no chance," Carette said. "I think development can go relatively quickly."

Common cold The scientific community has been struggling to prevent common cold because of the ability of viruses to rapidly become resistant to drugs and stay undetected by the immune system. Pixabay