8/26/02 - Cold Cure?

A drug known to help fight hepatitis, leukemia and MS may soon be used to battle the common cold. Scientists at the University of Virginia say interferon, mixed with regular cold remedies, can kill a virus before it wipes you out.
It's easy to catch, but much harder to shake. The common cold can drag you down, but researchers in Virginia say they've developed a new treatment that stands up to the virus.
Scientists infected more than a hundred volunteers with a cold virus, then treated them with a new cold remedy, said to deliver a one-two punch. Dr. Jack Gwaltney with the University of Virginia says, "It's probably unlikely there's gonna be one magic bullet to treat colds, you're gonna need at least two bullets."
The first component of the treatment is the antiviral drug interferon, which attacks the virus itself. The second adds an antihistamine and ibuprofen, to block common cold symptoms, like coughing, sneezing, headache, and a runny nose.
You may be thinking, those over the counter remedies you normally take for colds can offer the same relief. But doctors in Virginia say 'their' remedy is different, because it targets not just symptoms, but the virus that made you sick in the first place. Dr. Gwaltney says, "We've had cures all along, they just weren't too good."
Researchers found the new combination of drugs stopped viral infection, and reduced symptoms by as much as 73 percent. Patients say the only side-effect they noticed was drowsiness. Study volunteer Craig Goodmans says, "If we learn knowledge today that may help people 20 years from now, that's great. I've got a child, she'll be needing it."
The FDA must still approve interferon, for use in treating colds, a process that could take several years. Until then, an antihistamine and ibuprofen are two of the best weapons to wipe out the common cold.