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UW-Madison research shows why there's no cure for common cold

Health graphic
Health graphic

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - You've heard it forever -- there's no cure for the common cold.

Now, we know why, thanks to new research at UW-Madison.

Monday, the journal Virology published a pair of UW studies which show that three strains of the rhinovirus make up around 85 percent of all colds.

However, there's no cure for the third strain known as the "C" strain, and that's the one which gives us the classic cold symptoms like coughs and runny noses. What's more, lead researcher Ann Palmenberg says the "C" strain accounts for up to half the colds that children get -- that puts kids even more at risk.

The "C" strain is also a factor in respiratory illnesses like bronchitis and asthma. Rhinovirus "C" was only discovered seven years ago, and it tends to cause problems deep in the lungs.

Palmenberg says the next step is find a receptor that's unique to the "C" strain and develop medicines for it.

That could take a long time. Palmenberg says it's not easy to come up with a compound that would be both effective and safe.

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