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Common-cold preventive.

Common-cold preventive

As the sniffles season starts, medical researchers have found a way to fend off the common cold. The treatment -- a nasal spray containing interferon -- was shown to limit cold transmission within families.

But the spray, which has been submitted to the federal government for marketing approval, is not the ultimate cold preventive, nor is it without side effects. It worked only against one type of cold and caused minor nasal bleeding in about 10 percent of the recipients.

Metered spray devices containing alpha.sub.2.-interferon or a placebo were supplied to 97 Australian families and 60 American families, with instructions to use them once a day for a week at the first sign of a cold in any family member.

In the U.S. study, only 1.3 percent of the interferon-sprayers caught rhinovirus-caused colds compared with 15.1 percent of the placebo users, and there were 86 percent fewer rhinovirus colds in the Australian interferon users. But because the medication didn't prevent other types of colds, the treated group still had 60 percent of the control group's cold incidence.

Previous studies have shown interferon's cold-preventing effectiveness, but the high-dose, long-term administrations used caused unacceptable levels of nasal bleeding. The new studies, reported in the Jan. 9 NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE, were done at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and the University of Adelaide in Australia, and were supported by the Schering Corporation of Kenilworth, N.J., which manufacturers the interferon used.
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Publication:Science News
Date:Jan 11, 1986
Words:247
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