Saturday, February 14, 2015

Can Science Kill the Common Cold?

Scientists crack virus code
Researchers at the Universities of Leeds and York have identified a previously unknown code contained within the strands of genetic material in rhinoviruses, the most frequent cause of the common cold.

Using a computer-based model, the researchers worked out not only how to read the messages hidden within the sequence of a virus's ribonucleic acid (RNA), but also how to "jam" the messages and stop the virus from deploying.

Dr Roman Tuma, from the University of Leeds, told the Daily Telegraph: "We have understood for decades that the RNA carries the genetic messages that create viral proteins, but we didn't know that, hidden within the stream of letters we use to denote the genetic information, is a second code governing virus assembly.

"It is like finding a secret message within an ordinary news report and then being able to crack the whole coding system behind it."
I'd like a little better explanation than that, but I wouldn't trust the average reporter to convey the information

 But don't expect a general "cold vaccine" to appear at the pharmacy any time soon.
The discovery – published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition – is still at a theoretical stage, with trials on animal viruses required before scientists are able to develop a drug for humans.
Given that the cold is such a mild disease, more an annoyance than a threat to anyone but the sickest and oldest of us, a vaccine will have to be virtually flawless, with no or minimal side effects to be acceptable for the public.

But I sure hope to see it in my lifetime. I hate colds, it seems like they linger for weeks. Georgia came down with one a couple of days ago, and is suffering through a runny nose and cough. It seems inevitable that I'll get it, although we're trying hard to avoid it.

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