Research shows new way to prevent the common cold (and maybe COVID-19)

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In a study from Northeastern University, researchers found a new way to prevent the common cold (and maybe COVID-19).

They focused on the crucial question of why people are more vulnerable to catching colds during the months of winter.

The answer hinges on an evolved defense system, innate to the human nose, that is numbed by frigid temperatures.

The findings could lead to treatments drawn from the body’s own defense mechanism.

Sick days lost to common colds reportedly cost the U.S. economy more than $40 billion annually.

Among the many groups seeking a cure is Amazon, which has reportedly devoted more than 100 employees to researching and developing a vaccine.

In the study, the researchers examined an immune mechanism in the nose and its release of extracellular vesicles—a spray of tiny sacs released from cells—that swarm, bind and kill bacteria at the point of inhalation.

With their latest study, the researchers set out to answer two questions:

Does the innate response in the nose also provide defense against viruses? (Turns out it does.)

Does the temperature of the air diminish the antiviral immune response—thereby helping explain why people become especially susceptible to colds in winter?

Nasal samples from volunteers were divided and cultured in Amiji’s Northeastern lab at the normal body temperature of 37 degrees Celsius as well as at 32 degrees Celsius, which is the plummeting temperature of the nasal pathway when people are outdoors in cold weather.

Under normal body-heat conditions, the researchers found that nasal extracellular vesicles were deployed with success by acting as decoys that directly bind and block viral entry.

In colder temperatures, a sparser net of fewer extracellular vesicles was deployed in tests involving two rhinoviruses and a coronavirus that is typical of the winter flu season.

The team anticipates that the body’s evolved response to pathogens could be tested against a wide variety of viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

If you care about the immune system, please read studies about 7 things to know about the new flu, and new drug could give immune system a double boost against cancer.

For more information about health, please see recent studies that chili peppers could help you live longer, and results showing Vitamin D could help lower the risk of autoimmune diseases.

The study was conducted by Mansoor Amiji et al and published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

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