In a paper published in the academic journal Nature Chemistry, researchers at the Imperial College London reveal they have discovered a molecule that inhibits the replication of the common cold virus in our bodies.
The common cold is a pain in every possible way. Aside from making us look and feel depressed, undernourished zombies, all we can do – despite 4000 years of medical advancements – is curl up with some chicken soup and Netflix.
The reason treating a cold is so difficult is because it can be caused by hundreds of different viruses. Something that might work with one strain might not even tickle another. Sum to that the fact that viruses have the ability to evolve faster than you can sneeze at, and we’ve got the recipe for humanity’s dreadful arch nemesis on our hands.
Currently, all we can do is nurse the symptoms and rely on our immune systems to kick it out. But what this research team has discovered is that we can actually make our bodies inhospitable for these tiny little villains.
When a cold virus enters our body, it takes hold of a human protein cell called N-myristoyltransferase (NMT) and uses it to build a shell that protects the virus while it replicates.
The research team has discovered that the IMP-1088 molecule has the ability to block a key step in the assembly of that shell, thus inhibiting its replication.
All viruses proceed similarly and take advantage of NMT in the same way, so there is hope that IMP-1088 will work on other strains as well.
Unlike other attempts to defeat those nasty rhinoviruses by targeting the human cells that make colds possible, so far IMP-1088 has shown no negative effects. The data is very promising and researchers hope to start trials in animals soon, and then in humans.