An age-old dream of the human race may have finally been realized. Painstaking research conducted by brilliant researchers at the Cambridge Laboratory of Molecular Biology proved that the body's own immune system has the ability to destroy the cold virus within human cells.
Thought by most medical researchers to be highly unlikely, the scientific investigation revealed that indeed, the body can kill the virus responsible for causing millions to suffer every year.
The Laboratory of Molecular Biology is known throughout the medical world as "the Nobel Prize factory." The team may have just opened the door for their next Nobel Prize.
Dr. Leo James, who led the research team explained, "In any immunology textbook you will read that once a virus makes it into a cell, that is game over because the cell is now infected. At that point there is nothing the immune response can do other than kill that cell."
The Cambridge breakthrough disproves that widely held assumption. It also gives hope to the many more millions that suffer from a wide range of associative diseases like the rotavirus that kills many thousands of young children each year in third world countries. The children die from severe dehydration following chronic bouts of debilitating diarrhea. Another virus that can be targeted, norovirus, affects many and causes what's known as "winter vomiting." The symptoms are similar to those experienced by those that are exposed to food poisoning.
Both these viruses and others can be effectively treated in the future by a new arsenal of antiviral drugs. medical researchers explain that the new drugs would enhance the natural virus-killing capability of human cells.
Clinical trials could begin in as little as two years.
A cure seems certain because the discovery the team made proves that antibodies enter a cell with the invading virus and thus are able to identify it as an intruder and destroy it.
A protein known as TRIM21 senses the presence of the antibody and responds with virus-killing chemistry. In most cases, the invading virus is wiped out in less than two hours. Researchers explain that is well before the time needed by the virus to become entrenched in the host cell and start replicating itself. Dr. James said it's the cell's last chance to fight the virus because "...after that it gets infected and there is nothing else the body can do but kill the cell."
Previously it was believed that viruses could only be destroyed outside the cells, Now it's known that the body has natural defense mechanisms even at the cellular level.
Dr. James further emphasized that "This system is more like an ambush because the virus has to go into the cell at some point and every time they do this, this immune mechanism has a chance of taking it out."
The deputy director of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Sir Greg Winter added that "Antibodies are formidable molecular war machines; it now appears that they can continue to attack viruses within cells. This research is not only a leap in our understanding of how and where antibodies work, but more generally in our understanding of immunity and infection."
Published by the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, the research team's study outlines how cells were cultured and the cellular defense mechanism was discovered.
More research will be needed with animals, followed by human clinical trials.
Dr. Leo James
Sir Gregory Winter
Cambridge MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
"Breakthrough raises hope of a cure for the common cold" Daily Mail
"Immune discovery opens up new line of attack against viruses" Guardian UK