Cold cure on the horizon?

Decoding the genome of the common cold virus offers new hope of eradicating it

Researchers who’ve decoded the genomes of the 99 strains of the common cold suggest they have new insight on ways to kill off the virus, the New York Times reports. “We are now quite certain that we see the Achilles’ heel, and that a very effective treatment for the common cold is at hand,” says Stephen B. Liggett, a University of Maryland asthma expert and co-author of the finding. Since the virus is thought to set off half of all asthma attacks, such a cure would have a huge impact on the lives of the 20-million Americans who suffer from asthma. But others say we shouldn’t get too excited at the prospect of a drug to kill off the cold. Not only would it be incredibly expensive to produce (the typical cost of developing a new drug is around $700 million); there’s some concern a vaccine couldn’t protect the lining of the nose, where the virus attacks. Even so, the new data will help analyze a new family of rhinoviruses that’s become cause for concern: those that attack the lungs, instead of the nose, causing viral pneumonia.

The New York Times