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Cold terminator.

Ah-ah-ah-choo! Got a bad cold? You know the symptoms -- runny nose, sore throat, achy muscles. Ugh! But a new medicine may put the choke hold on colds before they score a TKO.

Researchers have come up with BIRR 4, a nasal spray that works fast to cut the severity of cold symptoms in half. Good news, since colds are tough to terminate. After all, scientists say cold viruses have evolved over millions of years to be mean and nasty. Viruses are tiny particles that almost always produce diseases in animals and plants. Hundreds of viruses cause colds.

Rhinoviruses ("rhino" means nasal) cause 40 percent of all colds by sneaking right up your nose and infecting nasal cells. Rhinoviruses rely on a protein called intracellular adhesion molecule-1, or ICAM-1, to do their dirty work. The protein latches on to nasal cell receptors. The virus uses the cell to reproduce itself, and the infected nasal cell gets sick, so to speak. That's when sniffles take over. Soon your nose becomes a waterfall and your head feels like a ton of bricks.

But researchers found a way to trick rhinoviruses with decoy ICAM-1 molecules. When sprayed up your nose, BIRR 4's decoys fasten on to the virus and lure it away from nasal cells. Doctors caution that BIRR 4 can't prevent colds and it's not a cure -- here still is no way to thwart a common cold. "We've got a way to go before we can use the word `cure,"' says BIRR 4 lead-researcher Dr. Ronald B. Turner of the Medical University of South Carolina.

But BIRR 4 is nothing to sneeze at. The spray works best when symptoms first appear -- before you get sick. Still, don't look for BIRR 4 at your local drug store just yet. Researchers are still trying to perfect the spray so it knocks out worst-case cold symptoms. They don't know when the drug with be approved for use. Until then, bundle up, and hope that spring comes very soon!
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Title Annotation:BIRR 4 nasal spray cuts severity of cold symptoms
Author:Hugel, Bob
Publication:Science World
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jan 12, 1998
Words:332
Previous Article:On the fast track.
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