Because this kind of strategy targets the human protein that helps the virus replicate it means that any treatment developed should be effective against different strains of the virus that emerge, making this a truly universal common cold cure. When viruses invade the body, they use NMT to construct a shell that protects their genomes, which in turn allows them to make copies of themselves.
For these reasons, most cold remedies rely on treating the symptoms of the infection - such as runny nose, sore throat and fever - rather than tackling the virus itself. When a cold virus replicates, it takes a protein called N-myristoyltransferase (NMT) from host cells to build its capsid, a protein shell that surrounds the virus's genome.
Lead researcher Professor Ed Tate, from 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 (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)".
The drug is also hypothetically effective in dealing with polio and foot and mouth disease, which have similar viruses to the common cold.
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The Imperial College London researchers were working on making a form of the drug that could be inhaled, to reduce the chance of side effects. Scientists hope the new molecule, code-named IMP-1088, can be administered simply using an inhaler.
Caused by a family of viruses with hundreds of variants, it is almost impossible to treat, as no single vaccination exists against it, meaning people resort to treating the symptoms rather than the virus itself.
The Imperial College team came up with the idea for IMP-1088 when they were looking for a way to target NMT in malaria parasites.
They are now planning to move IMP-1088 into animal trials to ensure that it is safe and that it doesn't target other conditions with different causes, according to the statement.
A molecule that can combat the common cold virus by preventing it from hijacking human cells has been created by a group of researchers in the UK. After screening large libraries of compounds, they found two hits and were surprised to discover that they worked best together.