Scientists on track to cure the common cold
Published 17/10/2010 | 05:00
Scientists are hailing a breakthrough that could lead to one of medicine's holy grails -- a cure for the common cold.
Researchers have found they can attach tiny studs of silver to the surface of harmless bacteria, giving them the ability to destroy viruses.
They have tested the silver-impregnated bacteria against norovirus, which causes winter vomiting outbreaks, and found they leave the virus unable to cause infections. The researchers believe the same technique could help to combat other viruses, including influenza and those responsible for causing the common cold.
Professor Willy Verstraete, a microbiologist from the University of Ghent, Belgium, who unveiled the findings at a meeting of the Society for Applied Microbiology in London last week, said the bacteria could be incorporated into a nasal spray, water filters and hand washes to prevent viruses from being spread.
"We are using silver nanoparticles, which are extremely small but give a large amount of surface area as they can clump around the virus," he said.
In large amounts, silver can damage the liver, kidneys and lungs. But Prof Verstraete said by attaching it to much larger bacteria, it could not pass into other parts of the body.
© Sunday Telegraph