A Treatment for the Not-So-Common Cold?

Author:  Brandy Sullivan
Date:  May 2009

Recently, a study discussing the evolution of the rhinovirus genome that is responsible for nearly half of all cold infections was conducted by researchers at Brigham Young University (BYU). The knowledge gained from this study could make important contributions to the discovery of potential vaccines, which may be much more effective than common self-remedies.

It is estimated that the average adult experiences the cold virus two to five times per year. As such, the pharmaceutical and food industries have developed many self-remedies for curing the common-cold, including soups, tea, and vitamin-packed juices, as well as drugs such as paracetamol and phenylephrine.

The development of a highly accessible vaccine could prove very beneficial in many ways other than the maintenance of one's health. For example, 45 million days are taken off sick by adults due to the cold virus every year, costing the American economy nearly $5 billion. A vaccine for the common cold could potentially reduce this cost substantially.

Dr. Keith Crandall, a professor of Biology at BYU and co-author of the study, states, "There are a lot of different approaches to treating the cold, none of which seems to be effective.this is partly because we haven't spent a lot of time studying the virus and its history to see how it's responding to the human immune system and drugs."

Accordingly, to determine how the rhinovirus responsible for the common cold is related to other viruses, the BYU team studied genomic sequences accessible online and used computer algorithms. Using a computer program developed in-house, the research team detected portions of the viral genome that stimulate resistance to pharmaceutical drugs and the human immune system. Dr. Crandall states, "The virus is evolving solutions against the immune system and drugs.the more we can learn about how the virus evolves solutions, the better we can rid the body of these infections."

This recent study by BYU scientists and students contributes an insightful look into the molecular biology behind the virus and illustrates a not-so-common cold that requires more in-depth analysis if successful vaccines are to be developed. This, coupled with future advances in the field, offers hope for the development of vaccines for the rhinovirus that almost every adult will suffer from during their lifetime.

Sources: "Catching The Common old Virus Genome" Science Daily, March 17, 2009.




Written By: Brandy Sullivan

Edited by: News and Features Editor Matt Getz, Tetyana Pekar and Professional Reviewer Lois Alexander

Published by Falishia Sloan