It’s rare to get through the winter without developing a pesky cold at least once - some of us seem to have a permanent cold, and for others, a cold can be extremely dangerous.
However, colds could soon be a thing of the past thanks to a team of scientists who are on the verge of discovering a vaccine for the common cold.
The researchers, based in Paddington, London, are close to a breakthrough in the development of a nasal spray, SynGEM, that could prevent colds.
Having had a successful trial in rats and mice, the scientists are now testing the spray on humans.
Given colds affect so many of us, it seems remarkable that a cure has never been discovered. But what makes a vaccine so tricky to find is that there are actually about 200 viruses that cause colds.
However, 80% of colds are caused by just three viruses: the rhinovirus, coronavirus and respiratory syncytial virus, known as RSV.
Peter Openshaw, a professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, explained that “That makes it very hard to find a vaccine that would work against them all or a treatment that could work for them all.”
But after spending 30 years researching colds and flu, Professor Openshaw believes they really are on the cusp of a breakthrough with the vaccine, which targets RSV.
The worst jobs for your health
The worst jobs for your health
1/10 10. Surgical and medical assistants, technologists, and technicians
Overall unhealthiness score: 57.3 What they do: Assist in operations, under the supervision of surgeons, registered nurses, or other surgical personnel and perform medical laboratory tests. Top three health risks: 1. Exposure to disease and infections: 88 2. Exposure to contaminants: 80 3. Exposure to hazardous conditions: 69
2/10 9. Stationary engineers and boiler operators
Overall unhealthiness score: 57.7 What they do: Operate or maintain stationary engines, boilers, or other mechanical equipment to provide utilities for buildings or industrial processes. Top three health risks: 1. Exposure to contaminants: 99 2. Exposure to hazardous conditions: 89 3. Exposure to minor burns, cuts, bites, or stings: 84
3/10 8. Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators
Overall unhealthiness score: 58.2 What they do: Operate or control an entire process or system of machines, often through the use of control boards, to transfer or treat water or wastewater. Top three health risks: 1. Exposure to contaminants: 97 2. Exposure to hazardous conditions: 80 3. Exposure to minor burns, cuts, bites, or stings: 74
4/10 7. Histotechnologists and histologic technicians
Overall unhealthiness score: 59.0 What they do: Prepare histologic slides from tissue sections for microscopic examination and diagnosis by pathologists. Top three health risks: 1. Exposure to hazardous conditions: 88 2. Exposure to contaminants: 76 3. Exposure to disease and infections: 75
5/10 6. Immigration and customs inspectors
Overall unhealthiness score: 59.3 What they do: Investigate and inspect people, common carriers, goods, and merchandise, arriving in or departing from the US or between states to detect violations of immigration and customs laws and regulations. Top three health risks: 1. Exposure to contaminants: 78 2. Exposure to disease and infections: 63 3. Exposure to radiation: 62
6/10 5. Podiatrists
Overall unhealthiness score: 60.2 What they do: Diagnose and treat diseases and deformities of the human foot. Top three health risks: 1. Exposure to disease and infections: 87 2. Exposure to radiation: 69 3. Exposure to contaminants: 67
7/10 4. Veterinarians, veterinary assistants, and laboratory animal caretakers and veterinary technologists and technicians
What they do: Diagnose, treat, or research diseases and injuries of animals and perform medical tests in a laboratory environment for use in the treatment and diagnosis of diseases in animals. Top three health risks: 1. Exposure to disease and infections: 81 2. Exposure to minor burns, cuts, bites, or stings: 75 3. Exposure to contaminants: 74
8/10 3. Anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists, and anesthesiologist assistants
Overall unhealthiness score: 62.3 What they do: Administer anesthetics or sedatives during medical procedures, and help patients in recovering from anesthesia. Top three health risks: 1. Exposure to disease and infections: 94 2. Exposure to contaminants: 80 3. Exposure to radiation: 74
9/10 2. Flight attendants
What they do: Provide personal services to ensure the safety, security, and comfort of airline passengers during flight. Greet passengers, verify tickets, explain use of safety equipment, and serve food or beverages. Top three health risks: 1. Exposure to contaminants: 88 2. Exposure to disease and infections: 77 3. Exposure to minor burns, cuts, bites, or stings: 69
10/10 1. Dentists, dental surgeons, and dental assistants
Overall unhealthiness score: 65.4 What they do: Examine, diagnose, and treat diseases, injuries, and malformations of teeth and gums. May treat diseases of nerve, pulp, and other dental tissues affecting oral hygiene and retention of teeth. May fit dental appliances or provide preventive care. Top three health risks: 1. Exposure to contaminants: 84 2. Exposure to disease and infections: 75 3. Time spent sitting: 67
His team are in the process of testing the spray on 36 volunteers and are currently waiting to see if the vaccine works - if the volunteers produce antibodies (immune cells that counteract the virus), they’ll know SynGEM works.
If the spray is a success, it could save innumerable lives: “Colds can and do kill,” Professor Openshaw told the Mail Online, adding that what is just a slight annoyance for some can be fatal to weaker, more vulnerable people.
Babies and the elderly are particularly at risk, with colds being the biggest reason infants are hospitalised.
As children and old people are largely responsible for the spread of colds, the hope is that the spray would target them in particular.
For now, it’s a case of waiting to see how those 36 volunteers react, but it’s safe to say Professor Openshaw and his team could be on the verge of something big.Reuse content