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At last? Clinical trials of a vaccine for the common cold?

Flu vaccines can protect against one of the two villains of cold and flu season, but the diversity of viruses that cause common colds makes a vaccine for the ailment elusive.

Three major groups of viruses cause most common cold cases: Rhinoviruses, Coronaviruses, and respiratory syncytial virus, often called RSV. The Independent reports that a new RSV vaccine candidate, SynGEM, is in Phase 1 clinical trials after successful tests in rats and mice. The human trial, currently underway, involves 36 volunteers who will be monitored for development of RSV antibodies. An RSV vaccine, while not able to eliminate all colds, might be able to protect newborns and the elderly, the most vulnerable populations, from hospitalization and death.

Rhinoviruses present a wholly different challenge, with 99 different types of the virus identified. In September, researchers tested a candidate vaccine containing 25 strains of the virus in mice and 50 strains in monkeys. By contrast, flu vaccines usually contain no more than four strains. In a successful proof of concept study, the researchers showed that the mice and monkeys produced antibodies specific to the strains in the vaccine - 25 different antibodies in the mice and 50 different antibodies in the monkeys. The next step is a human Phase 1 clinical trial.

Will a Rhinovirus vaccine enter clinical trials in 2017?

This question will resolve as positive if a trial appears on ClinicalTrials.gov for testing of a multi-strain rhinovirus vaccine and begins recruiting volunteers on or before Dec. 31, 2017.

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