New cold treatment developed at the University of Virginia

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. July 8 Scientists at the University of Virginia have developed a new combination drug therapy that delivers a one-two punch to knock out colds. In study results reported in the current on-line issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases, subjects used a new combination of drugs that stopped their viral infection and reduced symptoms by as much as 73 percent with no serious side effects.

"The new treatment is based on delivering a double blow to the cold illness," said principal investigator and the study's lead author Dr. Jack M. Gwaltney, Jr., chairman, Division of Epidemiology and Virology in the Department of Internal Medicine at U.Va. "One part of the treatment knocks out the virus which causes the infection, and the second part blocks the body's response to the infection, which is the cause of cold symptoms."

Research on what causes cold symptoms has been pioneered at U.Va. by Gwaltney, Dr. J. Owen Hendley and Dr. Birgit Winther, who are co-investigators of the new study. Their findings over the last two decades challenge the belief that cold symptoms are the result of the damage that a cold virus does to the lining of the nose. Instead, the U.Va. researchers found that virus damage to the nasal lining is minimal, and the symptoms of a cold are due to the body's inflammatory response to the infection. In recent years, they and other investigators have identified a number of inflammatory pathways associated with cold symptoms:

Stuffy nose results from dilation of blood vessels in certain tissues in the nose called turbinates. When the blood vessels dilate, turbinates swell and block air passages, making breathing through the nose difficult. Certain natural inflammatory substances in the body, such as histamine and kinin, are released during cold virus infection, causing nasal blood vessels to dilate.

Runny nose results from two different inflammatory events, nasal mucus gland secretion an

Contact: Catherine Wolz
University of Virginia Health System

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