We Might Finally Have A Vaccine to Protect Us From the Common Cold


IN BRIEF
  • Scientists took 50 types of rhinovirus and mixed them together into one vaccine.
  • Trials on animals showed that the method could be used to effectively fight the common cold, though human trials are some ways off.

Part of the problem in finding an effective cure for the common cold is there are so many variations of its root cause. But scientists have just found a way to target multiple strains of the cold in one vaccine that’s surprisingly simple to produce.

The vaccine mixes together dozens of different rhinoviruses – the viral infections that are to blame for most common colds – to create a concoction capable of fighting them all.

When applying the treatment to groups of mice and macaques, researchers from Emory University found that it stimulated antibody responses against all the types of rhinovirus in the drug, effectively knocking out multiple threats with a single hit.

“It’s surprising that nobody tried such a simple solution over the last 50 years,”said team member Martin Moore. “We just took 50 types of rhinovirus and mixed them together into our vaccine, and made sure we had enough of each one.”

This isn’t a cure for the common cold just yet, but it is evidence that the immune system is up to the challenge of defending against multiple causes of the virus – at least in animals. Human trials have already been scheduled to see if the effect can be replicated.

While scientists have had some success vaccinating against single rhinovirusesin the past, the problem is there are so many of them – more than 100, at the last count – and they’re all distinctive.

They’re also linked to respiratory issues like asthma and can cause ear and sinus infections.

Watch: The Common Cold

By artificially introducing a wide range of rhinovirus types to the body, the immune system gets a chance to put a counterattack in place, and is then prepared to fight off the same rhinoviruses when they’re encountered naturally.

Twenty-five different inactivated types of rhinovirus were used on mice and 50 on the macaques, and in each case, the animals were shown to produce antibodies targeted at each of those specific types.

Despite the heady mixture, the total amount of protein in each dose was the same. “The variants are like a bunch of slightly different Christmas ornaments, not really like 50 totally different vaccines mixed,” explained Moore.

What the scientists didn’t test here was the capability of the vaccines to stop the animals from getting sick much later on, but follow-up tests showed antibodies generated by the vaccines could also block rhinoviruses in human cells in laboratory conditions.

“We think that creating a vaccine for the common cold can be reduced to technical challenges related to manufacturing,” said Moore.

Once Moore and his colleagues recruit enough volunteers to give a human dose a trial run, we’ll know whether this has a chance of being effective in humans too. Eventually, we could be left with one less excuse to take a day off work.

Can Whiskey Cure Your Common Cold?


Rock and rye is a delicious medicine, especially made with dried orange peels, cinnamon bark, bing cherries, and rock candy.
With cold and flu season fully upon us, it’s hard to go anywhere these days without hearing a cacophony of chest-rattling coughs and sinus-clearing sneezes. (Gesundheit, people.)

And while most under-the-weather folks turn to over-the-counter drugs, various vitamins, endless cups of tea, and steaming bowls of chicken soup to feel better, it wasn’t that long ago that a glass of rock and rye was considered an effective cure-all.

The old-timey concoction isn’t just a clever name. Anchored by a rye whiskey base (the rye), it is sweetened with a bit of crystalized rock-candy sugar (the rock) and fruit. (Sound familiar? It’s very similar to an Old Fashioned cocktail, which adds a few dashes of bitters and ice.)
Some people believe the origin of the elixir may date back to when bartenders offered rough rye whiskey with a bit of rock candy, which customers would add to the spirit until it was palatable enough to drink.

But though we may not know rock and rye’s exact origin, we do know that it was first sold as a medicine and not as a recreational drink. Many brands touted their restorative claims proudly on marketing material, including Lawrence and Martin’s Tolu, which billed its rock and rye as a cure for coughs, cold, consumption, and “all diseases of the throat and lungs.”

“In my boyhood days in the country this was a favorite cough and cold remedy,” wrote David Embury in the 1958 third edition of The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, “even with those who frowned on liquor as the devil’s broth.”

Using whiskey and whiskey-based drinks as a cure was actually a pretty standard practice in the 1800s. So much so that, according to a piece titled “Curing a Cold: The Shortest and Surest Way by Which it Can be Done” that ran in The New York Times on Feb. 11, 1896, “Every experienced physician knows that pure malt whiskey is nature’s great remedy for stimulating the vital forces and building up the health.”

The popularity of rock and rye lasted for decades. “Before, during, and after Prohibition, enough temperance advocates made allowances for booze-heavy tonics and bitters that their prevalence in ostensibly dry houses became a running joke,” wrote Matthew Rowley in his fascinating new book Lost Recipes of Prohibition: Notes from a Bootlegger’s Manual. “While a slug of plain whiskey would almost surely have been met with tightly pursed lips, who could argue that rock candy sugar and fruit wouldn’t be wholesome additions?”

There’s even a recipe for a cocktail version in The Savoy Cocktail Book, Harry Craddock’s legendary art deco masterpiece from 1930, which calls for rye whiskey or Canadian Club, a piece of rock candy and the juice of a lemon that “can be added if desired.”

But, like countless other cocktails and medicinal tonics that have come and gone, rock and rye slipped into mixological obscurity. Along with rye whiskey in general, it largely disappeared from liquor store shelves and bar menus.

Drinkers developed a taste for smoother whiskies and, ultimately, clear spirits like vodka. The sick turned to powerful decongestants and vaccines to deal with their ailments. The only drink a bartender might have prescribed to a sniffling, sneezing patron was a watery Hot Toddy.

Fortunately, two boutique spirits companies have recently introduced their own delicious spins on rock and rye. (Don’t worry about either being overly sweet: The sugar and the fruit work together to soften and round out the whiskey.)

“Every experienced physician knows that pure malt whiskey is nature’s great remedy for stimulating the vital forces and building up the health.”
Entrepreneur Rob Cooper, who created St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur (that ubiquitous craft cocktail bar ingredient) and later sold it to Bacardi, introduced Hochstadter’s Slow & Low Rock & Rye back in 2012.

He recently started selling a 100-proof version ($35) that is made with 8-year-old straight rye whiskey and flavored with raw honey, dried navel orange peels, and a “pinch of cane rock candy.” (It also contains bitters, which makes it essentially a bottled Old Fashioned.)

And in late 2014, the New York Distilling Company, based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, rolled out Mister Katz’s Rock & Rye ($25), which uses its own rye whiskey and is flavored with dried orange peels, cinnamon bark, bing cherries, and some rock candy. At a drinkable 65 proof, it works well as an aperitif when sipped on the rocks.

Can Whiskey Cure Your Common Cold?

 

The cocktail version of rock and rye is also popping up. Jim Meehan’s acclaimed PDT Cocktail Book features a version from bartender Lydia Reissmueller called the Rack & Rye, which calls for Wild Turkey Russell’s Reserve 6-Year-Old Rye, van Oosten Batavia Arrack, Demerara syrup, and both Angostura Bitters and Angostura Orange Bitters.

While doctors generally no longer believe in the ability of a stiff drink to fight colds and flus, I, for one, have not given up hope. After all, I’d rather have a shot of rock and rye than a flu shot any day.

Common cold ‘prefers cold noses’


Nose wiping

The virus behind the common cold is much happier in a cold nose, US researchers suggest.

Their study showed the human immune system was weaker in cooler temperatures, allowing the virus to thrive.

The researchers suggested keeping your nose warm and avoiding cold air while infected.

The findings were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,

Rhinoviruses are one of the main groups of virus that leaves our noses streaming and us sneezing.

The team at Yale University tested rhinoviruses at a nose temperature of 33C, and a normal body temperature of 37C.

“We’ve known for 50 years that it replicated better in the nose, but the mechanism has never been clearly defined,” researcher Dr Akiko Iwasaki told the BBC.

She said the immune system became weaker in a cold nose and gave the virus more opportunities to replicate.

Two important tools – a set of sensors that detect infection and chemicals that co-ordinate the immune response – were less effective at cooler temperatures.

Dr Iwasaki said: “In general, the lower the temperature, it seems the lower the innate immune response to viruses.”

Rhinovirus
Rhinovirus is one of the major sources of the common cold

She said her findings could help explain why the common cold is more common in the cold months of winter.

But cautioned that it was “much more complicated”.

Other factors including different human behaviour in winter compared with summer have also been implicated in winter colds.

However, Dr Iwasaki did suggest some ways of fighting a cold: “You can always stay in warm tropical weather or try to prevent the nasal cavity experiencing very cold air.”

Jonathan Ball, a professor of virology the University of Nottingham, said the findings could explain why rhinoviruses infect the nose rather than warmer parts of the body like the lungs.

He told the BBC: “We know the temperature of the cells lining the nose are cooler than other less exposed parts of the body.

“This could explain why the rhinovirus causes colds and is less able to cause more serious lung infections, like influenza does.”

Does chilly weather really cause a cold?


Yale researchers say they have discovered a “possible mechanism” by which cold temperatures may aid the incubation of cold viruses.

Yale researchers identify ‘possible mechanism’ by which cold weather may help to spread cold viruses
A new study by Yale researchers suggests that cool temperatures can play a role in causing the common cold, by inhibiting the virus-fighting ability of cells in the nose.

It’s a commonly held belief that catching a chill can bring on a nasty cold. However, researchers have long argued the point, noting that people can transmit and catch cold viruses year round.

Now, in a paper published Monday in the journal PNAS, a team of researchers studying mice has concluded that most rhinoviruses reproduce more efficiently at temperatures slightly lower than body temperature, or 98.6 degrees.

Rhinoviruses are the most frequent cause of the common cold, and they can also trigger asthma attacks.

Lead study author Dr. Ellen Foxman, a researcher at Yale University School of Medicine, and her colleagues, set out to investigate how temperature can affect immune response.

Cold viruses
Good hypothesis and data appears to indicate a more extensive study. Last winter I again told my brother you cannot catch a virus “common cold” from low temperatures without being exposed to the virus. He suggested lower body temperature may let a virus take hold which I conceded…

The researchers studied how a mouse-adapted cold virus fared in the rodent nasal cavity — which typically is a temperature of 91 to 95 degrees — and compared that to viral spread within the lungs — which have a temperature of 98.6 degrees.

What they discovered was that when a virus invaded warmer cells, the host cells produced significantly more interferons — proteins that “interfere” with the spread of a virus by warning healthy cells of its presence and setting off an immune response.

In the cooler nasal cavity cells, this warning system was less efficient however, and allowed the virus to spread more easily.
Study authors wrote that it was “intriguing to consider the possibility that inhaling cool air might diminish resistance to respiratory virus infections by lowering the temperature of potential host cells lining the nasal cavity.”

“Our observations therefore provide a possible mechanism for the popular but controversial idea that exposure to cool weather conditions can increase susceptibility to common colds.”

What Most Doctors Won’t Tell You About Colds and Flus.


 

The next time you experience a cold or the flu, remember this: rather than take conventional drugs to suppress uncomfortable symptoms, it’s better for your health to allow the cold or flu to run its course while you get plenty of physical and emotional rest.

Conventional medicine and the pharmaceutical industry would have you believe that there is no “cure” for the common cold, that you should protect yourself against the flu with a vaccine that is laden with toxic chemicals, and that during the midst of a cold or flu, it is favorable to ease your discomfort with a variety of medications that can suppress your symptoms.

Unfortunately, all three of these positions indicate a lack of understanding of what colds and flus really are, and what they do for your body.

Colds and flus are caused by viruses. So to understand what colds and flus do at a cellular level, you have to understand what viruses do at a cellular level.

Do you remember learning about cellular division in grade seven science class? Each of your cells are called parent cells, and through processes of genetic duplication (mitosis) and cellular division (cytokinesis), each of your parent cells divides into two daughter cells. Each daughter cell is then considered a parent cell that will divide into two more daughter cells, and so on.

Viruses are different from your cells in that they cannot duplicate themselves through mitosis and cytokinesis. Viruses are nothing but microscopic particles of genetic material, each coated by a thin layer of protein.

Due to their design, viruses are not able to reproduce on their own. The only way that viruses can flourish in your body is by using the machinery and metabolism of your cells to produce multiple copies of themselves.

Once a virus has gained access into one of your cells, depending on the type of virus involved, one of two things can happen:
The virus uses your cell’s resources to replicate itself many times over and then breaks open (lyses) the cell so that the newly replicated viruses can leave in search of new cells to infect. Lysis effectively kills your cell.

The virus incorporates itself into the DNA of your cell, which allows the virus to be passed on to each daughter cell that stems from this cell. Later on, the virus in each daughter cell can begin replicating itself as described above. Once multiple copies of the virus have been produced, the cell is lysed.

Both possibilities lead to the same result: eventually, the infected cell can die due to lysis.

Here is the key to understanding why colds and flus, when allowed to run their course while you rest, can be good for you:

By and large, the viruses that cause the common cold and the flu infect mainly your weakest cells; cells that are already burdened with excessive waste products and toxins are most likely to allow viruses to infect them. These are cells that you want to get rid of anyway, to be replaced by new, healthy cells.

So in the big scheme of things, a cold or flu is a natural event that can allow your body to purge itself of old and damaged cells that, in the absence of viral infection, would normally take much longer to identify, destroy, and eliminate.

Have you ever been amazed by how much “stuff” you could blow out of your nose while you had a cold or the flu? Embedded within all of that mucous are countless dead cells that your body is saying good bye to, largely due to the lytic effect of viruses.

So you see, there never needs to be a cure for the common cold, since the common cold is nature’s way of keeping you healthy over the long term. And so long as you get plenty of rest and strive to stay hydrated and properly nourished during a cold or flu, there is no need to get vaccinated or to take medications that suppress congested sinuses, a fever, or coughing. All of these uncomfortable symptoms are actually ways in which your body works to eliminate waste products and/or help your body get through a cold or flu. It’s fine to use over-the-counter pain medication like acetaminophen if your discomfort becomes intolerable or if such meds can help you get a good night’s rest. But it’s best to avoid medications that aim to suppress helpful processes such as fever, coughing, and a runny nose.

It’s important to note that just because colds and flus can be helpful to your body doesn’t mean that you need to experience them to be at your best. If you take good care of your health and immune system by getting plenty of rest and consistently making health-promoting dietary and lifestyle choices, your cells may stay strong enough to avoid getting infected by viruses that come knocking on their membranes. In this scenario, you won’t have enough weak and extraneous cells to require a cold or the flu to work its way through your body to identify and lyse them.

Curious about how to differentiate the common cold and the flu? Here is an excellent summary of the differences from cbc.ca:
A cold usually comes on gradually — over the course of a day or two. Generally, it leaves you feeling tired, sneezing, coughing and plagued by a running nose. You often don’t have a fever, but when you do, it’s only slightly higher than normal. Colds usually last three to four days, but can hang around for 10 days to two weeks.

Flu, on the other hand, comes on suddenly and hits hard. You will feel weak and tired and you could run a fever as high as 40 C. Your muscles and joints will probably ache, you will feel chilled and could have a severe headache and sore throat. Getting off the couch or out of bed will be a chore. The fever may last three to five days, but you could feel weak and tired for two to three weeks.

One final note on this topic: because the common cold and the flu are both caused by viruses, antibiotics are not necessary. People who take antibiotics while suffering with a cold or flu often feel slightly better because antibiotics have a mild anti-inflammatory effect. But this benefit is far outweighed by the negative impact that antibiotics have on friendly bacteria that live throughout your digestive tract. In this light, if you really need help with pain management during a cold or flu, it is usually better to take a small dose of acetaminophen than it is to take antibiotics.

Sources: drbenkim.com & realfarmacy.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Viruses: Nature’s Self-Packing, Nanoscale Suitcases.


This the season, from Thanksgiving to New Year, when tens of millions of us will travel to see family and friends. As these trips draw near everyone will face the same dilemma — what to pack? After laundry, ironing and folding, the next problem is which suitcase to choose; too small, too big, just right. What none of us think about during this time is the myriad of invisible virus particles that will be making the trip with us.

These nanoscale objects (a nanometer is one millionth of a millimeter, or 10,000 times smaller than the width of your hair) cling to our bodies looking for ways to get inside our cells and make new copies of themselves. During our trip, they will readily be exchanged with viruses taking trips with other people, either by transferring on surfaces or as aerosols in the air, especially if someone forgets to cover their face when they sneeze. Despite their apparently insidious size, and their potential for causing everything from the common cold to AIDS, viruses are not actively malign. They are in fact non-living collections of proteins and nucleic acids that simply fulfill Darwinian predictions about evolution. In their case they have evolved the property of infecting cells and replicating by using the host’s molecular machinery to produce new virus particles that escape the cell looking for a new victim. Making their hosts ill, or even killing them, is just an unfortunate side effect of this process. It is, however, a side effect that results in devastating losses in crops, as well as being the cause of many serious illnesses and deaths in animals and people every year. Understanding these events in detail is a major goal of researchers who hope to find ways to deter these pesky hitchhikers.

Working with one group of viruses that contain RNA genomes, similar to those that cause the common cold or polio, Alex Borodavka, Roma Tuma and I have just made an interesting discovery about the ways that viruses pack for their trips. In the viral world the content of the suitcase is the nucleic acid that carries the instructions for making new viruses. The suitcase is made from viral coat protein molecules that clump together to form a protective shield for that nucleic acid. Just as we do when we get to our destinations, when viruses enter cells they unpack their nucleic acids from the protein shell and the process of making new virus particles can begin. The first stages of this process are making new copies of the nucleic acid instruction book and more coat proteins to make the newly required suitcases to pack them in. The RNA in our test viruses emerges from these events rather like our clothes do after a few days at our destination, crumpled in a heap and no longer neatly folded. At the end of our trips we may discover that our suitcase is a little too small after all because we have to work hard at getting everything to fit back in. Similarly new viral suitcases are pretty cramped, and something has to happen to fold their nucleic acid molecules neatly so that they will fit inside.

Using a spectroscopic technique that allows us to see viral particles one at time, we noticed the equivalent of a Harry Potter moment for virus assembly. When viral RNAs and viral proteins are mixed together the proteins leap onto the RNA and fold it up neatly. It is as if the suitcase and the contents pack themselves. Previously people assumed that the process was much more gradual than this. Interestingly, when viral coat proteins are given non-viral RNAs they leap onto those molecules too but are not able to fold them up. That means that the viral suitcases they try to build do not close properly and so their contents cannot survive the trip to a new host. These observations pose an interesting question.

Can we mess up a viral nucleic acid’s travel plans by getting their coat proteins to treat them like non-viral equivalents? If we could we would have a powerful way to treat viral infections. Something to think about the next time you are stuck waiting for your plane, train or bus.

Happy Holidays!!

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com

 

%d bloggers like this: