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Doctors get closer to understanding the common cold

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Is there a cure for the common cold? Not yet, but doctors are one step closer today thanks to a genetic unmasking of the cold virus.

So far, scientists have uncovered 99 different strains of the rhinovirus, and it is this enormous variety that makes the cold so difficult to beat.

In a new study, researchers decoded the genetics for all of the cold viruses to compare their similarities and their differences. They found that the rhinovirus constantly reinvents itself. One person could contract two separate colds and have them combine to form a new, third virus.

This chameleon-like quality means it is unlikely we will ever have a vaccine to defeat the cold.
But by comparing the different viruses, researchers hope to identify patterns in the way they change. Predicting mutations in the virus will allow doctors to find better ways to thwart it, perhaps with better antiviral medications.

In the meantime, the best way to defeat the cold is to avoid it by getting enough sleep, staying away from those who are sick, and frequent hand washing.

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Is there a cure for the common cold? Not yet, but doctors are one step closer today thanks to a genetic unmasking of the cold virus.

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