Curing the common cold, eh?

This looks interesting.

The drug – known as BTA798 – works by latching onto the cold-causing rhinovirus to prevent it breaking into the body\’s cells.

Peter Cook, Chief Executive of Victoria based drug development company Biota said: "This could be the world\’s first anti-viral treatment for the human rhinovirus. A safe and effective treatment for the virus will be a major breakthrough."

Not so muh because it cures a cold, but because we\’ve not managed to work out how to cure anyone of any viral disease as yet. We\’ve worked out how to stop someone being infected sometimes (vaccines) we can treat some of the symptoms, we can cut the viral load (all those HIV drugs), most people who get viral diseases simply recover or don\’t, but we\’ve never actually worked out how to "cure" any viral disease at all.

Be pretty cool if we had, eh?

5 thoughts on “Curing the common cold, eh?”

  1. not sure what you’re getting at there – for example acyclovir treats herpes virus…does it cure it? Not really, but it kills the virus and the body heals. Does penicillin “cure” streptococcus any more than acyclovir cures herpes virus?

  2. “not sure what you’re getting at there – for example acyclovir treats herpes virus…does it cure it? Not really, but it kills the virus and the body heals.”

    Hmm, not really the case, I’m afraid. Acylovir is a viral DNA polymerase inhibitor and thus stops viral replication: it does not “kill” the virus (whether one can kill what does not live is a more philosophical question).

    Further, Acyclovir is ineffective against latent viruses in the nerve ganglia. It is because of these latent viruses that herpes is, like a puppy, for life. Every now and again, some of the herpes viruses migrate from the ganglia to breed sites, leading to the physical problems that we see, e.g. cold sores. However, the virus remains in the ganglia and we have no drugs to treat that.

    “Does penicillin “cure” streptococcus any more than acyclovir cures herpes virus?”

    Penicillin does actually kill bacteria (but only Gram positive ones, i.e. those with a peptoglycan wall). In order to replicate, the “hard-shelled” bacteria need to break the bonds holding the shell; they then grow and reform the shell around the larger body.

    Penicillin stops the reformation of the shell and so the bacteria are unable to contain themselves and, effectively, explode.

    So, this new drug acts unlike either of the examples above; it does not act to stop replication of the virus directly, and nor does it kill it.

    However, it does stop the virus entering cells and causing the symptoms that we associate with the common cold. Further, since viruses need to use cell machinery to replicate, the drug thus stops colonisation and replication and, since most viruses don’t survive for long outwith a cell host, eventually allows the virus to be destroyed more quickly than before (since it is not hidden in a cell) by the body’s defenses.


  3. P.S. Might it be this drug?

    “Pleconaril is an orally bioavailable antiviral drug being developed for the treatment of infections caused by picornaviruses. This drug acts by binding to a hydrophobic pocket in VP1 and stabilizes the protein capsid to such an extent that the virus cannot release its RNA genome into the target cell. When tested in volunteers, during the clinical trials, this drug caused a significant decrease in mucus secretions and illness-associated symptoms. Pleconaril is not currently available for treatment of rhinoviral infections, as its efficacy in treating these infections is under further evaluation.”

  4. “Be pretty cool if we had, eh?” I disapprove of the “we”, Tim: you must read the Nurdgaia too often.

  5. DK:

    “(but only Gram positive ones;)”

    Seems I remember that penicillin was the original drug of choice against gonorrhea, whose causative organism is (again, if I remember correctly) a Gram-negative diplococcus.

    As a matter of fact, I am the author of an important footnote in a manual of laboratory
    practice. To the instructions for Gram-staining, where the procedure called for a 30-second immersion, I added an asterisk:

    * to aid in determining an elapse of 30 seconds, it is extremely helpful to keep in mind that this is almost precisely the time it takes for light to travel 5, 600,000 miles.

    These days, that probably wouldn’t pass muster unless converted to the metric system.

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