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Towards a Vaccine for the Common Cold

Towards a Vaccine for the Common Cold

The common cold is caused by various types of virus which includes coronavirus, echo virus, paramyxovirus, rhino virus and the adenovirus. The most common being the rhino virus which causes between a third and half of all colds. Unlike influenza, which can be cured with the flu vaccine, the common cold has given the scientific world a much tougher time in finding a cure. Traditional mythical treatments for the common cold includes a healthy dose of vitamin C, chicken soup and gurgling salted water. Studies, which lasted over 20 years, showed that people who took vitamin C were not at reduced risk of contaminating the common cold. On the other hand, any warm liquid such as chicken soup has a soothing effect on the respiratory tract and proteins from chicken could help the body produce antibodies to fight infections. To date the only marketed vaccine for the common cold exists in the realm of quantum physics as Coldvac, the validity of which have neither been tested nor proven.

The cold virus normally does not have any life threatening or overly unbearable symptoms however the cold virus, especially rhino virus has been implicated in up to 90% of cases of exacerbated asthma. It has also been found that asthma patients have lower immunity to the cold virus and therefore need some induced immunity through vaccination. This places more importance on the need to find a vaccine against these viruses.

The Challenge
Research into finding a vaccine for the cold virus has been ongoing for over 5 decades now. Publications to this regard go as far back as 1957 in the journal of infectious disease by Harmory B.H. and his colleagues. The reason for such relatively little progress in the area of cold virus vaccine is down to the fact that the possible side effects bound to be attached to the vaccine are often quite sever compared to the symptoms of the cold which in the normal case are usually not so sever. However in the situation whereby an individual suffers from other conditions such as asthma, the common cold could become life threatening. Therefore a vaccine for the common cold poses several significance, in terms of public health, quality of life and the economy.

The rhinovirus is constituted of RNA genome enclosed within a protein shell known as a capsid. A rhino virus acts by invading the cell of a host and overriding the multiplication mechanism then instructing the host cell to make more virus cells. When the invasion occurs, the body recognizes the existence of a pathogen and initiates an immune response in the form of the symptoms of the common cold. This symptoms include runny nose, sneezing and headache.

The bane for researchers in the quest to develop a cold vaccine lies in the specific nature of the body's immune response and the constant variation in the structure of the virus. The capsid has also been found to be very dynamic in nature, it seems to hide parts if itself sometimes. This was observes by Thomas J. Smith, a researcher at the Donald Danforth Plant Science center located in St Louise

Prospective vaccines
There are various efforts being made to develop a vaccine for the common cold. In 2009 one of such efforts yielded the complete genetic code of over 100 rhino viruses. This was done by a research team at the University of Maryland led by Stephen B. Leggett. The study also unraveled the evolutionary pattern in all the rhino viruses. This development is important, as it is key to for example developing a vaccine, which targets a particular group of rhinoviruses that deteriorate the symptoms of a respiratory disease such as asthma.

A vaccine which consisted of a protein from the rhino virus known as vp4 was developed in 2009 by Thomas J. Smith, a researcher at the Donald Danforth Plant Science center located in St Louise . the cell culture tested exhibited some immune response to rhino virus when the VP4 vaccine was used. Another vaccine, called VP1 has also been tested in combination with a grass pollen allergen vaccine , PhI p1 for the treatments of cold and allergy by a group of researchers at the university of Salzburg in Austria. The VP1 virus showed inhibition in human epithelial cells. Further studies, which also involves Thomas J Smith in a publications, led by Umesh Naptally, further elucidates the dynamic nature of the rhinos virus. The study also shows that the mutated strains of the VP4 protein may possess similar attributes, which indicates their potential to actively immunize against the human rhino virus. However much more studies are still to be done to advance the cold vaccine development from cell level to human trials.

?t is expected that any vaccine developed for the common cold would likely face much scrutiny and has a higher likelihood not to be approved since the benefits of curing the cold would tend to be outweighed by the side effects. Considering that, the common cold is not a life threatening condition, the vaccine for the prevention of this condition, in the words of Thomas Smith has to be "safer than water".

References
Mesh Keptally et al. (2009) Antibodies to the N terminus of RhinovirusVP4 Exhibit Cross Serotypic Neutralization. Journal of Virology. 83(14): 7040-7048.

Amory BH et al. (1957) Human Responses to two Decavalent Rhinivirus Vaccine.Journal of Infectious Diseases. 132(6):623-629.

Johanna Delmar eternally also. (2009) A Combination Vaccine for Allergy and Rhinovirus Infections Based on Rhinovirus-Derived Surface Protein VP1 and a Nonallergenic Peptide of the Major Timothy Grass Pollen Allergen Phl p 1. Journal of Immunology. 190(7): 143-151.

Nino Khetsurianni et al. (2008) Novel Human Rhino Virus and exacerbation of Asthma in Children. Emerging Infectious disease 14(11):1793-1796.

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