Cold & Flu Myths & Mantras | Health | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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Cold & Flu Myths & Mantras 

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We'll never find a cure for the common cold.

If you listen to the naysayers out there, you'll think that Western medicine has already hoisted a white flag of surrender to the various strains of rhinovirus. One of the major obstacles to finding a cure is the multifaceted nature of the ailment. A cold is not one disease but rather a syndrome brought on by multiple viruses—hence the difficulty in coming up with a silver-bullet vaccine or single cure. Also, colds and flus are moving targets; these viruses evolve quickly, developing resistances and outsmarting our best-laid plans. The antiviral medications we've come up with thus far simply aren't up to the challenge—and when we take them it's usually too late, as most antivirals are administered 24 to 48 hours after the onset of symptoms.

Yet some scientists are standing up to the sniffles—and they say we have a good chance of snuffing them out one day. "I believe that there will be a cure for the common cold," says Leo James, PhD, a lead researcher at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England. In 2010 James and his team demonstrated for the first time that a cold virus can be destroyed by the body's natural defenses after it has entered the sanctum of a human cell—a task that was once considered an impossibility. James's team located a molecule within human cells called TRIM21, which antibodies use to fight viruses. "The potential for [a new class of] antiviral drugs comes in because this system of antiviral protection is one that we did not know existed," says James, who notes that this is only the beginning of a long road of research and, eventually, years of clinical testing. One day, the drippy nose might be a thing of the past. "We will all have to be patient," he adds, "but we will get there."

RESOURCES

Lauren Vigna, MD, (845) 691-3627

Hillary Thing, LAC, Certified Herbalist, (845) 626-1228

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