Explained: Will common cold help in fight against novel COVID-19?
New Delhi, June 18: In what comes as a shocking revelation, researchers have found that exposure to the rhinovirus, which is most frequent cause of the common cold, can protect against infection by the virus which causes COVID-19.
In a new study, published in the the Journal of Experimental Medicine, researchers from Yale University has found that the common respiratory virus jump-starts the activity of interferon-stimulated genes. These are molecules in the immune system whose early response can halt replication of the SARS-CoV-2 virus within airway tissues infected with the cold.
Triggering these defences early in the course of Covid-19 infection holds promise to prevent or treat the infection, the Yale University website quotes said the study's senior author, Ellen Foxman, as saying. One way to trigger these defences is by treating patients with interferons, an immune system protein which is also available as a drug.
According to reports, her team infected lab-grown human airway tissue with SARS-CoV-2 and found that for the first three days, viral load in the tissue doubled about every six hours.
However, the duplication of the COVID-19 virus was completely stopped in tissue that had been exposed to rhinovirus. If antiviral defences were blocked, the SARS-CoV-2 could replicate in airway tissue previously exposed to rhinovirus.