Mind and Body

Drug maker close to a cure for the common cold

Taking sick days is set to get tougher -- there may be a cure for the common cold.

Australian drug maker Biota Wednesday reported the stunning success of its antiviral compound, named Vapendavir.

Tested in 300 asthmatic patients infected with the cold-causing human rhinovirus, the clinical trial showed that cold symptoms eased quickly and the duration of the infection was shortened considerably.

Patients given a placebo experienced the worst cold symptoms at 2.5 days, whereas those dosed with Vapendavir began rapid recovery after just 1.7 days.

Dr. Robert Stirling, from Melbourne's Alfred Hospital, said Vapendavir had the potential to "significantly impact the disabling symptoms of the rhinovirus bug."

"If this reduces the intensity and duration of a respiratory cold, especially in asthmatics, it is an important finding," he said.

"I think eventually we will be able to incorporate this treatment into our usual practice and we will find the economic benefits will outweigh health costs of treating infected patients. This could signal the death of the sickie," he said, using Australian slang for a sick day.

But the cure has to be tested in a bigger group of patients and Biota needs to satisfy regulators that it will fill an unmet need in healthcare before it is available to the public.

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