Cold vac­cine a pos­si­bil­ity

The Sun (Malaysia) - - LIFESTYLE -

IT’S RARE to get through the year with­out de­vel­op­ing a pesky cold at least once – some of us seem to have a per­ma­nent cold, and for oth­ers, a cold can be ex­tremely dan­ger­ous.

How­ever, colds could soon be a thing of the past, thanks to a team of sci­en­tists who are on the verge of dis­cov­er­ing a vac­cine for the com­mon cold.

The re­searchers, based in Padding­ton, Lon­don, in the UK, are close to a break­through in the de­vel­op­ment of a nasal spray that could pre­vent colds.

Hav­ing had a suc­cess­ful trial in rats and mice, the sci­en­tists are now test­ing the spray, called SynGEM, on hu­mans.

Given that colds af­fect so many of us, it seems re­mark­able that a cure has never been dis­cov­ered. But what makes a vac­cine so tricky to find is that there are ac­tu­ally about 200 viruses that cause colds.

How­ever, 80% of colds are caused by just three viruses: the rhi­novirus, coro­n­avirus and res­pi­ra­tory syn­cy­tial virus, known as RSV.

Peter Open­shaw, a pro­fes­sor of ex­per­i­men­tal medicine at Im­pe­rial Col­lege Lon­don, ex­plained: “That makes it very hard to find a vac­cine that would work against them all, or a treat­ment that could af­fect them all.”

But af­ter spend­ing 30 years re­search­ing colds and flu, Open­shaw be­lieves they re­ally are on the cusp of a break­through with the vac­cine, which tar­gets RSV.

His team are in the process of test­ing the spray on 36 vol­un­teers and are cur­rently wait­ing for the vac­cine test re­sults. If the vol­un­teers pro­duce an­ti­bod­ies (im­mune cells that coun­ter­act the virus), they’ll know SynGEM works.

If the spray is a suc­cess, it could save in­nu­mer­able lives.

“Colds can and do kill,” Open­shaw said, adding that what is just a slight an­noy­ance for some can be fa­tal to weaker, more vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple.

Ba­bies and the el­derly are par­tic­u­larly at risk, with colds be­ing the big­gest rea­son in­fants are hos­pi­talised. As chil­dren and old peo­ple are largely re­spon­si­ble for the spread of colds, the hope is that the spray could tar­get them in par­tic­u­lar.

For now, it’s a case of wait­ing to see how those 36 vol­un­teers re­act, but it’s safe to say Open­shaw and his team could be on the verge of some­thing big. – The In­de­pen­dent

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