The Cold, Hard Search for a Cure for the Common Cold

The drug, tremacamra, works by blocking the rhinovirus, a common virus that causes some colds. Tremacamra attaches itself to cellular receptors where the rhinovirus would usually infect a cell.

Dr. Frederick G. Hayden, MD, one of the principle researchers on the study called the findings promising.

“The results do show that the strategy of using a receptor decoy or receptor blockade is effective,” he said.

Experimental stages.

The study involved 196 subjects in placebo-controlled trials that involved placing the tremacamra in people’s noses using nasal spray or dry powder.

The results showed 45 percent fewer symptoms, including 23 percent fewer clinical colds and 56 percent less nasal mucus.

Hayden said there were no noted side effects and that tremacamra was “well tolerated.”

The drug, however, is still in experimental stages, and funding for future research is shakey at best. The companies that funded the original research have not pushed further investigation.

“We’re left in a bit of an awkward setting,” Hayden said. “It’s dissapointing that it’s not being taken forward to the next stage. But on the other hand, there are other compounds that are also promising.”

Hayden said work being done with compounds AG-7088 and pleconaril is in similar stages.

In an editorial in JAMA, Kenneth McIntosh, M.D was a little less enthusiastic about the tremacamra findings, calling the search for a cure to the common cold the “a late 20th-century quest for the holy grail.”

“Despite the encouraging findings of the study by Turner et al, it is clear that the ‘cure for the common cold’ is still not in hand. Tremacamra appears to be a promising candidate, however, and researchers and clinicians may be a little closer to the goal,” the Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston researcher wrote.