Cure for the common cold…may not be too far away

virus and antibody

Virus (purple) circulating in the bloodstream recognized by antibodies (yellow) of the immune system

In a dramatic breakthrough that could affect millions of lives, researchers at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge have been able to show for the first time that the body’s immune defenses can destroy the common cold virus after it has actually invaded the inner sanctum of a human cell, a feat that was believed until now to be impossible.

In the past, it was thought that the antibodies of the immune system worked entirely outside the cells, in the blood and other extra-cellular fluids of the body. Now scientists realize that there is another layer of defense inside the cells where it might be possible to enhance the natural anti-virus machinery of the body.

How the virus is tackled

  1. Virus (purple) circulating in the bloodstream recognized by antibodies (yellow) of the immune system
  2. Virus attaches to outer cell membrane with antibodies still attached
  3. Virus invades the cell membrane and emerges inside the cell
  4. Remains of cell membrane disappear and the virus is free to hijack the cell
  5. TRIM21 protein (blue) recognizes attached antibodies as foreign material
  6. Powerful virus-destroying machines (cylinders) attracted to virus by TRIM21
  7. Virus rapidly broken down and disabled within hours
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