This is a problem that has plagued scientists for hundreds of years. Until recently, researchers announced that they may have taken a big step forward in overcoming this problem, and that the problem is the common cold. On average, adults in general suffer from colds 2 to 3 times a year, and young children can experience up to 10 times a year in colds.
According to the latest statistics, there are more than 200 kinds of viruses that cause common cold, and the “main offender” in these viruses is the rhinovirus. It is very difficult to block pathogens through vaccines or antiviral drugs, not only because they have so many different forms, but also because they can evolve rapidly and they quickly acquire resistance to a certain drug. .
Therefore, most cold medicines treat symptoms of infection (such as runny nose, sore throat, fever, etc.) rather than the virus itself.
A cold is really a troublesome thing, and it can also cause economic losses that cannot be overlooked. In the United States, economic losses caused by the common cold can reach several billion U.S. dollars a year. More importantly, the common cold may also have some very serious consequences – rhinoviruses can frequently cause acute attacks such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Therefore, a cold is not only a trouble, but also a health risk.
Recently, scientists at Imperial College London have made a new breakthrough. They have developed a new method that can overcome the cold virus. Using this method, they do not need to directly attack the virus molecules. Instead, they use a synthetic molecule to block the virus from obtaining the desired protein in human cells. Through laboratory tests, the researchers confirmed that this molecule can prevent the common cold virus from attacking human cells. The results of this study were published in the May 14 issue of Nature-Chemical.
Like all viruses, cold viruses are both disgusting and terrifying. When they enter the human body, they can use the infected cells as resources to “direct” them to create more viruses. In this process, the cold virus needs to control an enzyme in the human body, N-myristoyl transferase (NMT), which will be used in human cells to attach certain rare fatty acids when needed. On some proteins. However, cold viruses need to biochemically “hijack” NMT from human cells to construct protein capsids that protect the new viral genome. Since the cold virus itself does not have this enzyme, it is completely dependent on human provision.
Prof. Ed Tate and Andy Bell et al. screened many compounds that might interfere with NMT function. Eventually they discovered two molecules that worked extremely well together. By combining the advantages of the two molecules, they created a new type of molecule called IMP-1088.
○ IMP-1088 (yellow) blocks human NMT (blue) to prevent the cold virus from assembling the protein capsid it uses to contain its RNA genome.
Preliminary tests on human cells have shown that IMP-1088 can completely block a variety of cold virus strains and can even protect against closely related viruses including poliovirus and viruses that cause hand-foot-and-mouth disease.
The researchers pointed out that a particular advantage of this treatment is that because it targets human proteins, it is very difficult for the virus to develop drug resistance. There have been attempts in the past to make drugs that target human cells, not viruses, but many of them have toxic side effects. The researchers said that so far, new molecules have been shown to completely block the virus without having harmful effects on human cells. Of course, everything observed in the laboratory cannot be guaranteed to occur in human cells. To ensure that it is not toxic to the human body, further research is needed.
Professor Tate said: “The way this molecule works means that we need to make sure that it deals with the cold virus, not a similar condition with different causes of the disease, so as to minimize the incidence of toxic side effects.”