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A girl sneezing

Common colds are often caused by rhinoviruses — and scientists have found a way to halt their proliferation. Credit: Peter Parks/AFP/Getty

Biochemistry

A potential cure for the common cold

A designer compound stops rhinoviruses in their tracks.

A synthetic molecule blocks the proliferation of the viruses responsible for at least one-quarter of common colds.

Cold viruses called rhinoviruses hijack cells to make viral proteins and produce new infectious particles. During this process, infected cells attach a fatty acid to a viral protein called VP0, a step thought to be crucial for the assembly of new virus particles.

Roberto Solari and Edward Tate at Imperial College London, UK, and their colleagues developed a molecule — based on a compound found in the malaria parasite (Plasmodium falciparum) — that prevents this fatty-acid attachment. When the researchers added the molecule to infected cells, it blocked the assembly of new virus particles without having any toxic effects on treated cells.

Similar approaches could be used to treat rhinovirus infections that worsen respiratory diseases such as asthma and cystic fibrosis, the authors say.

More Research Highlights...

Pulsar wind nebula illustration

Curving purple lines in this artist’s impression represent the magnetic field of a neutron star (white sphere) left over from a brilliant supernova. Credit: Salvatore Orlando/INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo

Astronomy and astrophysics

X-rays expose a clue to the mystery of the missing neutron star

Astronomers might have spotted the long-sought debris of a famous stellar explosion.
A bone fragment next to a dime

A bone fragment excavated in Southeast Alaska belonged to one of the earliest known domestic dogs in the Americas. Credit: Douglas Levere/University at Buffalo

Genomics

An ancient Alaskan dog’s DNA hints at an epic shared journey

To scientists’ surprise, a 10,000-year-old bone found in an Alaskan cave belonged to a domestic dog — one of the earliest known from the Americas.
Emissions billow from smokestacks at a coal-fired power plant as the sun sets, India.

Black carbon emitted by power plants and other sources in Asia wafts to the Arctic, where the pollution accelerates the melting of ice and snow. Credit: Kuni Takahashi/Bloomberg/Getty

Atmospheric science

Soot from Asia travels express on a highway to the high Arctic

Black carbon from fuel combustion in South Asia bolsters the effects of climate change on northern ice and snow.
Prevotella copri bacteria, computer illustration

The gut bacterium Prevotella copri (artist’s impression) has been linked to a reduction in the health benefits of a diet that skimps on red meat in favour of fish and vegetables. Credit: Kateryna Kon/Science Photo Library

Microbiology

Trying a Mediterranean diet? Gut microbes might sway the outcome

The composition of a person’s microbiome could influence the health effects of swapping steak for vegetables and olive oil.
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