Yale Study Reveals How Human Body Can Keep Cold Virus from Replicating

yale-university-study-common-cold virus

The common cold plagues millions of people every year, but unfortunately, there is no definite cure.

When you get a cold, it means that you have been infected by a tiny virus, except that there are over 200 types that lead to getting a cold.

The most common is the rhinovirus, which amounts to around 40% of cases of the common cold.

According to the CDC, more than 20 million school days have been lost due to students getting the cold and having to stay at home.

Although harmless, the cold can disrupt work and studies.

It’s also mysterious, as there are people more prone to catching it than others.

While doctors and nurses usually tell patients to get some rest and drink lots of water, a new research now sheds light on ways you can get rid of that nasty cold quicker than before.

A study by  Yale university researchers, “Two interferon-independent double-stranded RNA-induced host defense strategies suppress the common cold virus at warm temperature”, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, reveals findings about how warmer body temperature could keep the cold virus from replicating.

Akiko Iwasaki, a Yale University Professor of Immunobiology, and his team conducted an earlier study that revealed that the virus of the common cold replicated faster when the body temperature dipped down into lower levels at around 33 degrees Celsius, where immune system proteins couldn’t function to protect the body from invading viruses.

In their current study, Iwasaki and his team focused on the human airway cells. These cells are responsible for producing interferons, the proteins that help the body fight off viruses, so-called because they “interfere” with the proliferation of alien forces that enter the human body.

Iwasaki, who is also a member of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, said that during instances when the body’s interferons can’t stop the virus from multiplying, it’s the body’s warm temperature that can do the job.

In their laboratory, they incubated the infected cells at 37 or 33 degree Celsius, and found that even without the interferons, the virus couldn’t spread.

The warm cells themselves held the virus hostage, preventing it from reproducing.

The researchers did more experiments and found several new things: At the core body temperature (37 degree Celsius), the infected cells die quickly.

This actually stops the virus from spreading. Also, the body produces an enzyme called RNAseL or Ribonuclease L. This enzyme can destroy both cellular and viral RNA. In higher body temperatures, the RNAseL is further enhanced.

The study reveals that both of these are ways that the human body employs to fight off the cold virus, and that they become more optimized when the body temperature is at 37 degrees.

The cold virus can also induce asthma, so this study by Iwasaki and his team can help better and quicker treatment of the ailment.

Aside from Iwasaki, there are several other Yale University researchers who contributed to the study:

  • Elen Foxman, a medical researcher and clinical pathologist, who is currently working as an Instructor in Laboratory Medicine
  • James Alexander Storer, a Yale graduate student of Cell and Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from Colby College
  • Kiran Vanaja who is a post-doctoral associate in Biomedical Engineering
  • Andre Levchenko who is a John C. Malone Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Rob Clark

SchoolCampus.org admin staff managing editor

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