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expert reaction to lab study looking at a molecule targeting a human protein involved in the common cold

Researchers report a lab-tested a molecule that can combat the common cold virus by preventing it from hijacking human cells, in a new study, published in Nature Chemistry.

 

Dr Peter Barlow, British Society for Immunology spokesperson and Associate Professor in Immunology & Infection at Edinburgh Napier University, said:

“This interesting study showcases the activity of a new, and highly effective, inhibitor of Rhinovirus, which is the pathogen that is most commonly responsible for the common cold.  In addition to causing cold symptoms in healthy adults, Rhinovirus has also been associated with exacerbations of asthma and other respiratory conditions such as cystic fibrosis, and can be quite a dangerous infection in people with compromised immune systems.  There are currently no drugs or vaccines for Rhinovirus that have been licensed for use in humans.  This is mainly because there are around 160 different types of this virus, so creating a vaccine that is effective against all these types is extremely challenging.  The development of new drug treatments for this virus is therefore urgently needed.

“This study uses a variety of chemical approaches to characterise the activity of a virus inhibitor called IMP-1088.  This inhibitor appears to interfere with the ability of Rhinovirus to replicate inside the cells of the host, which is an essential part of the virus life cycle.  Because the inhibitor targets proteins that are common to most types of Rhinovirus, if further research were to show it works in people it would likely have a broad range of activity, and could be effective in treating Rhinovirus infections in patients with existing lung conditions, such as asthma and cystic fibrosis – but further studies would be required.

“While this study was conducted entirely in vitro, i.e. using cells to model Rhinovirus infection in the laboratory, it shows great promise in terms of eventually developing a drug treatment to combat the effects of this virus in patients.”

 

* ‘Fragment-derived inhibitors of human N-myristoyltransferase block capsid assembly and replication of the common cold virus’ by Aurélie Mousnier et al. published in Nature Chemistry on Monday 14 May 2018.

 

Declared interests

Dr Peter Barlow: “Dr Peter Barlow was previously funded by a grant from the Chief Scientist Office (Scotland) on a project investigating novel therapeutic approaches for respiratory viral infections.”

 

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