Sunday, October 30, 2016

Rhinovirus vaccine development

If you've ever had a cold, you know that medical appointments end with the same treatment advice: get rest and drink lots of fluids. Essentially, wait out the virus and its symptoms.

Why spend the time and effort to develop a vaccine for a virus that is not super threatening? In 2003, the economic losses due to the common cold were estimated to be $40 billion. Between the cost of staying home to take care of children, the cost of medicine to relieve symptoms, and other expenses, the cold is really expensive for Americans. And because colds are so ubiquitous, the total cost balloons beyond that of more serious illnesses, like emphysema.

Fortunately, virologists are working on a vaccine to prevent the common cold. Most colds are caused by rhinovirus- which currently doesn't have a treatment or a vaccine. Rhinoviruses have many different serotypes and have rapidly evolved, making vaccine development difficult. However, a vaccine currently being tested in macaques is showing promise. The scientists combined 50 different types of rhinoviruses to create the vaccine- hoping to protect humans from as many different serotypes of the virus as possible. They hope to include serotypes that are most hazardous to immunocompromised patients, including those with COPD.

-Katy Graham


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