The common cold is a viral infection that has no cure to date. It affects the respiratory tract mainly the nose and can cause significant discomfort and is characterized by sneezing, coughing, a runny nose, fever, and headache.
According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), an average of 62 million Americans get the cold every year. Since no cure is available, infected persons are forced to treat the symptoms and help the body fight against the virus. Medicines used to ease the consequences of the cold include cough syrups, nasal decongestants, and mild pain relievers. This is bound to change though, because an Austrian Scientist has just registered a patent for a common cold vaccine.
Many cure hoaxes
Suffice the scientific community agreeing that there is no cure for the common cold, there have been many people claiming to have remedies that help this. One of the most famous being a claim that oranges, specifically Vitamin C can help cure the ailment.
Now a vaccine for the common cold
Usually, when the body is attacked by a virus, a person’s antibodies try to penetrate the viruses’ nucleus in order to destroy it. This attempt usually fails as in the case of the common cold virus, known as the human rhinovirus. This is because this particular virus can mutate its form in over 99 ways and are able to outsmart the body’s immune system, making it impossible to cure.
According to Rudolf Valenta, an allergy expert at the Medical University of Vienna, who has researched on colds and allergies for decades, and who also applied for the vaccine patent, the war on the common cold can only be won if the body’s response can be changed. “We’ve taken pieces of the rhinovirus shell, the right pieces, and attached it to a carrier protein. It’s a hoary principle, to refocus the antibody response.” He told The Independent in a recent interview.
Attacking the virus
During their research, Valenta and his team observed that when the human rhinovirus, infects the body, the immune system tries to neutralize the virus by attaching antibodies to the virus, but the antibodies end up attaching themselves to an area of the virus that does not get affected in any way. Coupled with the fact that the virus can mutate, it leaves the immune system with no way to defeat the virus.
In the vaccine, Valenta and his team have developed, they have been able to redirect the antibodies to be able to attach themselves to the shell area of the virus. This causes the virus’ shell to peel, exposing it to an attack by other antibodies and its ultimate destruction. “With the first protein we built, we have very good inhibition [of the disease] already. We believe that we are on an excellent track with what we’re doing,” Valenta went on to reassure in the interview.
Valenta is hopeful that with a well-funded research, the team can deliver a high-quality vaccine that will be readily available in local clinics in the next six to eight years.
From there, Valenta can start the rigorous process of obtaining FDA approval for use.
The vaccine would be a welcome move for a disease that has baffled many.