THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

Genetic sequencing and modeling of cold virus illustrate cure difficulty

A recent study, conducted by scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, genetically sequenced and modeled the cold virus rhinovirus C, potentially explaining why a cure for the common cold has never been developed to-date.

The common cold, comprised of rhinoviruses A, B and C, are responsible for millions of illnesses annually and more than $40 billion spent on prevention and treatment in the U.S. alone. The research team discovered that the rhinovirus C strain is physically different than its counterparts and must be tackled differently.

The study was published in the Oct. 28 issue of Virology, where the research team, led by UW-Madison Professor of Biochemistry Ann Palmenberg, provides a detailed topographical model of the protein shell, or capsid, of a cold virus. The model showcases the difference between rhinovirus C and A&B, which may provide the preliminary information on how to tackle it.

"The question we sought to answer was how is [rhinovirus C] different and what can we do about it?" Palmesberg said. "We found it is indeed quite different [and the difference] explains most of the previous failures of drug trials against rhinovirus."

Palmenberg said her teams studies proved all current common cold treatment ineffective against rhinovirus C. She suggested developing a drug specific to rhinovirus C, which most commonly infects children.

"It has a different receptor and a different receptor-binding platform," Palmenberg said. "Because it's different, we have to go after it in a different way."