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BYU researchers inch closer to cure for the common cold



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PROVO -- Researchers at BYU believe they have made significant progress in the study of the rhinovirus, which is the cause for almost half of the common colds we all suffer from. The research could be another piece in the puzzle to create a vaccine for the common cold.

Researchers have been focusing in on the evolution of the rhinovirus and hope what they have found will someday help drug makers better understand how the virus can be attacked.

Professor Keith Crandall and his BYU research team.
Professor Keith Crandall and his BYU research team.

Through a computer program developed at BYU, the research team was able to find how the virus genome becomes resistant to drugs and our immune systems.

"The more we understand with the evolutionary history of these viruses -- how they are related to each other, how mutations in the virus interact with the immune system and cause disease, and how the variations of the virus allow the virus to evolve solutions to whatever is found by it -- the more intelligibly we can design drug treatments of vaccine strategies," explained Keith Crandall, professor of biology at BYU.

When doctors treat colds now, they treat the symptoms: the coughing, sneezing and congestion. The key is to prevent the colds from ever developing, and that will be in the development of drugs.

It doesn't mean we can forget about getting another cold, but the researchers are excited that down the road it will help make progress against the dreaded common cold.

The study will be published in the April issue of the academic journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.

E-mail: spenrod@ksl.com

Sam Penrod

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