When you catch a cold, you have to let it run its course. You can numb yourself out with the potentially-harmful symptom suppressors found at the drug store, or you may be able to help speed its progress and lessen its damage with natural solutions. But there is no “cure”. Scientists, of course, are looking to change that and are making progress on anti-viral drugs that have, until now, eluded them.
Right now, antiviral medications have to be tailored to a specific illness, like HIV or hepatitis. Antibiotics that fight infections, on the other hands, can have a general application—taking one type of medication to wipe out all bacteria (including the good ones). Researchers want to develop an antiviral medication that is as “effective” as current antibiotics—that can be taken for everything from the common cold to polio, or H1N1.
According to MIT researchers, it’s possible and they are on the brink. So far, their antiviral drug, DRACO, has only been tested in the lab. But there, they have tested it on 15 different viruses and they say in all of those it has been successful. They did this by creating a drug that fuses two natural proteins, one that detects a virus and another that then kills the infected cell.
Other researchers have had varying success as well. At Mount Sinai Medical School in New York, an antiviral drug has been created that has proven successful in influenza treatment, but less successful with other viruses. Another scientist Dr. Benhur Lee found a drug that seems to work on several viruses with a greasy outer layer, including pox viruses and Ebola.
Creating a general antiviral medication is said to be like the “holy grail for microbiologists,” according to the BBC. And though these scientists are making strides, there is still a long way to go.
Traditional antivirals come with extreme side effects as well, something the researchers will have to address if they are hoping to create a Big Pharma money-maker to treat the common cold. No one will want to take a drug that makes them feel worse than the illness.
Fortunately, we don’t have to wait for the drug to be finalized, as there are side-effect-free, natural options that can significantly shorten the duration of a cold and reduce the symptoms. Try apple cider vinegar, kiwifruit, and vitamin C-rich foods for starters. Garlic, Echinacea, and ginger are also good natural remedies.