Scientists are one step closer towards creating a cure for the common cold.
According to The Daily Mail, they have created a molecule that prevents the virus from hijacking a protein in human cells that it uses to replicate and protect itself from people's immune systems, a study found today.
Cold cures have been notoriously difficult to develop due to the virus having hundreds of variations and rapidly evolving, which causes it to quickly develop drug resistance.
The new treatment is expected to be effective due to it targeting a common protein rather than the virus itself, which reduces the risk of resistance, according to the researchers.
Lead author Professor Ed Tate, from Imperial College London, said: 'The common cold is an inconvenience for most of us, but can cause serious complications in people with conditions like asthma and COPD.
'A drug like this could be extremely beneficial if given early in infection, and we are working on making a version that could be inhaled, so that it gets to the lungs quickly.'
The researchers have only conducted lab studies so far, and are hoping to test the molecule in animals and eventually humans. It is unclear when the treatment may be available.
Lab tests suggest the treatment will have no side effects
Lab results suggest the treatment molecule blocks cold viruses without affecting human cells, which suggests it will not cause side effects.
Professor Tate added, however: 'The way the drug works means that we would need to be sure it was being used against the cold virus, and not similar conditions with different causes, to minimise the chance of toxic side effects.'
The researchers discovered the molecule while screening compound libraries looking for a malaria treatment.
Their findings were published in the journal Nature Chemistry.
The 'algorithm' used to distinguish between the flu and a common cold
This comes after a patient revealed a hilarious flow chart last February that his doctor uses to test whether people are suffering from flu or a common cold.
John Richards, a radio DJ from Seattle, posted the 'My Flu Algorithm' on Twitter, which asks readers if they feel they have been hit by a train.
If the answer is no, the 'flu info from a literal doctor' states they do not have the viral infection.
Responding yes without being involved in such a deadly accident, confirms a flu diagnosis.
In response to the post, which has been liked more than 9,500 times, other Twitter users shared their ingenious ways of separating a common cold from flu, including whether you could get out off the sofa for £100.
Flu vaccine that can be taken as a pill is being developed
Research released last March also suggested scientists are developing a ‘revolutionary’ flu vaccine that can be taken as a pill.
As well as likely being preferred by those with a fear of needles, the drug will not require refrigeration, which will make it easier to transport and more suitable for developing countries with warm climates, according to researchers from the University of Cardiff.
Like all vaccines, the medication works by exposing people to a harmless part of a pathogen, such as a protein, which stimulates their immune systems so it launches a stronger response if it encounters the virus again.
By containing synthetic pathogen-like proteins rather than biological ones, the new vaccine is not digested and can therefore be taken orally, the researchers claim.
When given to mice and human cells infected with flu, the vaccine stimulated a strong immune response, a study found.
Speaking of the findings, Divya Shah, from Wellcome’s infection and immunobiology team, who was not involved in the trial, said: ‘This is a very exciting first proof-of-concept study that could provide a potential route to make vaccines that are thermostable and be administered orally.’
The researchers stress, however, it could be several years before the treatment is tested on humans and it is therefore unclear when it may be widely available.