Billions of People Have Been Affected; So Why Isn't There a Cure?

Billions of People Have Been Affected; So Why Isn't There a Cure?

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Author Srish Chenna

A cure for the common cold: the elusive medical mystery and nuisance for the ages. Since the dawn of mankind, we have been affected by its bothersome symptoms. Back in the 1950s scientists discovered the pathogens causing the common cold, rhinoviruses. Although the causes of many diseases such as smallpox and polio have been found and have been effectively eradicated, we still struggle against this lowly disease. Now, we can trace the origin of these difficulties back to the immense number of circulating strains: about 160. Say we uncover a cure for one of the strains and administer it to you; you can still become infected from yet another strain the next day. Therefore, it is profoundly inefficient and not cost-effective to develop 160 distinctive shots.

However, the common cold accounts for approximately 75% of all colds affecting adults so researchers are striving to invent viable treatments. One way is a serum comprising of about 80 strains which can be used extensively over sustained time periods - serotypes seldom mutate meaning that vaccine mixes produced today will retain their potency. Similarly, this strategy is displayed in the vaccine for pneumonia which contains 23 bacterial strains. Another way is to view all 160 strains side by side to see if there are any identical viral structures between them. If such as structure were to be found, you could develop a drug that targets that specific area. The third and in my opinion the most innovative method is to use the human body’s own defense mechanisms against the cold. Known as “host defense peptides,” these organic molecules usually deploy in your body following a cold to prevent any future illness. This idea is promising except for the fact that these peptides degrade very quickly but researchers are on the brink to increasing their shelf-life.

Hopefully, we can categorically cure the infamous common cold in the near future. In doing so, this peeve can be purged from our daily lives making the days of thousands of individuals around the world immeasurably more comfortable.


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