Inhibiting NMT with IMP-1088 prevented multiple strains of the cold virus from "hijacking" human cells in lab tests, the researchers reported. It's a family of viruses that evolve so quickly no one can ever be fully immune to the cold, and developing a vaccine that can tackle all of the variations of the virus is impossible.
Researchers at the Imperial College of London have developed a molecule that interferes with the rhinovirus' ability to create a protective shell necessary for it to replicate. The molecule could also work against the poliovirus and the virus that causes foot and mouth disease.
Like all viruses, the common cold virus enters the human body and then hijacks particular cells to duplicate itself.
Although dealing with a cold is not a huge issue for most people, there are good reasons to keep hunting for ways to fight it.
Also, because the molecule targets human cells rather than the virus, resistance would not be an issue.
The scientists were initially looking for a compound that would target a protein in malaria parasites. "New drug treatments for this virus [are] therefore urgently needed".
The results of the first tests were published today in the journal Nature Chemistry.
Researchers are now working on a drug that can be inhaled for people who have just started getting the sniffles.
Professor Tate said: "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".
Dr Peter Barlow of the British Society for Immunology said Imperial College's cold cure research showed great promise.
In particular, rhinoviruses are known to be the cause of acute upper respiratory tract infections and the common cold, in addition to worsening conditions like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and cystic fibrosis. Screening large libraries of compounds, they found two hits and were surprised to discover that they worked best together.