Researchers from Procter & Gamble, the University of Calgary, and the University of Virginia have just completed a study on the human genome's response to the common cold โ€” and the results provide a surprising amount of hope. After scraping the nostrils of 35 college students, seventeen of whom were infected and probably sneezing, scientists took advantage of new genomics technology to analyze the full profile of gene expression in the students' cells. As it turns out, they discovered that we have not the timid rhinovirus to blame for our coughing.The common cold is in fact any one of over a hundred viruses (most commonly rhinovirus), all of which produce similar symptoms. This has always led scientists to believe that a cure was impossible, and treatment of colds focuses solely on relieving their symptoms. The gene expression analysis of the seventeen infected students, however, showed that the human body over-reacts to the relatively minor viral infection of rhinovirus. Two days after the students were inoculated with rhinovirus, 6,530 genes were significantly up-regulated or down-regulated. As it turns out, many of the active genes were producing proteins that have been known to cause stuffy-head or runny-nose symptoms. This led study author Lynn Jump to declare that "cold symptoms develop because parts of our immune system are in overdrive." Jump went on to describe "the ideal cold treatment: one that maintains the body's natural antiviral response while normalizing the inflammatory response." So rhinovirus alone is an easy enemy โ€” the real challenge is mastering the reaction of our overexcited genes. Image from buzzle.com. First comprehensive genomic study of common cold reveals new treatment targets [via Eurekalert] Gene Expression Profiles during In Vivo Human Rhinovirus Infection: Insights into the Host Response [American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine]

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