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Could the common cold be cured?

March 31, 2022

Coughs and sneezes spread diseases – but could the end be in sight for the common cold as a result of COVID-19 vaccines?

Could the common cold be cured? Vaccines developed to combat coronavirus are found to be equally effective against colds

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University have found that the mRNA vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna to combat coronavirus are equally effective against new variants of the virus and the common cold.

The study utilized blood samples from 30 healthy healthcare workers and lab donors who had not previously tested positive for COVID-19. Participants were tested before and after receiving a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine.

Scientists then extracted CD4+ T cells from the blood samples and tested their response to protein fragments from the original SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, as well as three common cold coronaviruses.

In doing so, they identified 23 distinct T cell-targeted peptides. From these, only four were affected by the mutations seen in COVID variants from the United Kingdom and South Africa.

As the other 19 peptides targeted by the vaccines are the same in both the original virus and the newer strains, the mRNA vaccines should, theoretically, induce T cells that respond to these variants too.

The researchers say this means that the T cells induced by mRNA vaccines may prevent the variant viruses from causing severe cases of COVID-19, even if they don’t prevent infection.

They also noted that the vaccines led to a three-fold increase in CD4+ T cell responses to HCoV-NL63 spike peptides after vaccination, meaning that the vaccine could also work for a variant of the common cold.

Of course, we must remember that ‘common cold’ is a blanket term for different upper respiratory viruses, including adenoviruses, coronaviruses, and parainfluenza, with hundreds of variations. Therefore, a  single vaccine that worked on them all would be incredibly expensive and complicated to produce.

In addition to this, while our immune systems remember how to fight off most viral infections, this isn’t the case with some colds, which explains why many of us are susceptible to them year on year.

Large steps are being taken to combat the cold. However, we may just have to wait a little longer for that elusive ‘cure-all’ vaccination.

Read more: New mRNA hubs established

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