Nothing to sniff at: Screening platform identifies drugs that could fight the common cold

January 10, 2020

“We’re getting closer to finding a drug that can stop a cold virus in its tracks,” -Dr. Robin Parks, senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital, professor at the University of Ottawa.A team led by Dr. Robin Parks has developed a new way to identify drugs that may be good candidates for treating the common cold. While many products can treat cold symptoms, there is currently no way to treat the viruses that causes the disease, such as the adenovirus. 

The average person has around 400 colds in their lifetime, accounting for 40 percent of all workplace absenteeism. Colds can also be dangerous for those with compromised immune systems, or the very young or the very old – adenovirus is responsible for at least 100 deaths in Canada every year. 

The research team designed a small molecule screening platform and used it to test 1,200 drugs used to treat other conditions. They found 11 drugs that kept the cold-causing adenovirus from replicating, including cardiotonic steroids, corticosteroids and chemotherapy agents. Next they will investigate exactly how these drugs are stopping the virus. The team’s ultimate goal is a treatment that makes a cold less severe and prevents it from spreading.

“We’re getting closer to finding a drug that can stop a cold virus in its tracks,” said Dr. Robin Parks, senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital, professor at the University of Ottawa.

Source: Virology

Authors: Bratati Saha, Oliver Varette, William L Stanford, Jean-Simon Diallo, Robin J Parks

Funding: Canadian Institute of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. Research at The Ottawa Hospital is possible because of generous donations to The Ottawa Hospital Foundation

Core resources: High Content Imaging Core


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Disease and research area tags: Common cold, Infectious disease

Scientific Program tags: Regenerative Medicine Program