Nicole Karlis in Salon:
Despite the common cold being so — well — common, researchers have never succeeded in the long dream of curing or immunizing against the array of rhinoviruses that generally cause it. Though the common cold generally does not kill those who are not infirm or immunocompromised, it costs billions in lost time and energy. Now, new research hints that science might be closing in on the cold. In a study to be published in Nature Microbiology, researchers at Stanford University and University of California, San Francisco say that the cure to the common cold could be the result of disabling one single host protein.
“Our grandmas have always been asking us, ‘If you’re so smart, why haven’t you come up with a cure for the common cold?’” Jan Carette, PhD, associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University at Stanford University, said in a media statement. “Now we have a new way to do that.” In the study, Carette and his colleagues found a way to stop a broad range of enteroviruses, the class of RNA viruses that includes cold viruses, after discovering that enteroviruses could not be replicated without one host protein, known as SETD3. After the discovery, the researchers bioengineered mice without this protein. To their surprise, they grew healthily into adulthood, and they were impermeable to infection by two enteroviruses that can cause paralytic and fatal encephalitis — even when the enteroviruses were injected into the mice’s brains. Rhinoviruses, a type of enterovirus, are the most common viral infectious agent in humans and the main cause of the common cold.