A Moment of Science

Finally a Cure for the Common Cold?

We all love our chicken noodle soup, but scientists may have found a more down-to-business strategy for conquering the common cold (and other viruses)!

cold_cures

Photo: Sean Hobson (flickr)

Achooo! Sick and tired of the same old remedies, year after year? A real solution may be on the way.

What Were Previous Methods Of Getting Rid Of A Virus?

Well, when you get sick, a virus has entered your system and has begun attack your cells. It used to be the case that the only way to get rid of the problem was to get rid of the good stuff too. To kill the virus, the entire cell had to be killed as well.

How is the new method better?

A new study done at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge found a better solution. Instead of destroying the entire cell, scientists have found a way to attack the virus within the cell and leave the rest unharmed.

This inner-cell counter attack is part of a defense mechanism that already exists within our cells. Scientists hope to enhance this mechanism, making a tougher, stronger cell.

How Can They Do This?

Scientists’ primary weapon is a protein called, TRIM21.

When a virus enters the body, antibodies immediately attach to them. TRIM21 detects these antibodies and sends a signal to the cell to launch an attack on the virus. Because the cells have a ‘heads up,’ they are able to effectively destroy the virus within one to two hours (way before it had time to take over the cell)!

Scientist propose giving a sick patient an extra boost of TRIM21, in order to strengthen the body’s own immune system. This ‘boost’ would most likely come in the form of a nasal spray or some other easy-to-administer way.

The outlook is good for this new treatment. Clinical trials are expected to continue for 2-5 more years, but after that we can hopefully say “bye, bye” to cold season.

Read More:

  • Scientists May Have Discovered the Cure for the Common Cold (PopSci)
  • Cambridge Study (TheIndependent)

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Molly Plunkett

is a journalism student at Indiana University and an online producer for A Moment of Science. She is originally from Wheaton, IL.

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