Finally a possible cure for the annoying common cold could be on the way within the next two or so years.
In a dramatic breakthrough that could affect millions of lives, scientists have been able to show for the first time that the body’s immune defenses can destroy the common cold virus after it has actually invaded the inner sanctum of a human cell, a feat that was believed until now to be impossible.
The discovery opens the door to the development of a new class of antiviral drugs that work by enhancing this natural virus-killing machinery of the cell. Scientists believe the first clinical trials of new drugs based on the findings could begin within two to five years.
Viruses are still mankind’s biggest killers, responsible for twice as many deaths as cancer, essentially because they can get inside cells where they can hide away from the body’s immune defenses and the powerful antibiotic drugs that have proved invaluable against bacterial infections.
But studies at the Medical Research Council’s laboratory have found that the antibodies produced by the immune system, which recognize and attack invading viruses, actually ride piggyback into the inside of a cell with the invading virus.
Once inside the cell, the presence of the antibody is recognized by a naturally occurring protein in the cell called TRIM21 which in turn activates a powerful virus-crushing machinery that can eliminate the virus within two hours – long before it has the chance to hijack the cell to start making its own viral proteins.