A Hopeful Cure For The Common Cold Is Looking Atchoo For Its Clinical Trial

Do you have a stuffy nose right now? Is your throat sore and itchy? Are you bundled up in jumpers, feeling a bit sore, and basically waiting for the hell that is the common cold to be over?

Then a new clinical trial needs you. Yes, you.

Despite the common cold being so, well, common, it's incredibly hard to treat or contain. That's because it can be caused by more than 200 different viruses and, unlike bacterial infections, it can't be treated with antibiotics. Your treatment plan usually amounts to: stay hydrated, pop painkillers, and suck it up.

But a new clinical trial is hoping to prove that a new nasal spray will severely reduce symptoms and duration of the illness, from about a week down to just two days.

And most importantly, it's aiming to half the spread of the common cold through workplaces, schools and nurseries.

"It's not a cure, but it's a [hopefully effective] treatment that's not already available," said Dr. Sue Thackery, a GP who is leading the trial.

She told ten daily that while the cold is merely a nuisance for most of us, and a productivity loss for workplaces, it can develop into pneumonia or other deadly illnesses for people who are at high risk, such as people with diabetes or undergoing chemotherapy.

"The idea is to improve the overall health of the community," she said.

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Influenza and pneumonia is the 9th leading cause of death in Australia, accounting for 4,269 deaths in 2017.

Although last year was a "particularly bad flu season", the ABS said, it should be noted that pneumonia still accounted for the majority of deaths in this category.

Adults usually get two to four colds each year, according to the Australian Government, while children can get as many as five to ten. Photo: Getty.

The nasal spray in the clinical trial uses a well known and highly effective anti-viral agent, which has previously been used to treat sore throats and superficial skin infections.

"This study involves a nasal spray that patients will administer themselves four times daily over a five-day treatment period, and then for a further nine-day follow-up period," said USC Clinical Trials Centre Director Lucas Litewka.

The thing is, a clinical trial needs test subjects. And those test subjects need to have a cold.

The USC is calling for anyone between the ages of 18 and 65 who has had symptoms of the common cold in the past 48 hours but have not taken any other over-the-counter treatments to get in contact.

Patients who meet the criteria and are enrolled in the study will be compensated for their time, the USC said.

Contact the author: abrucesmith@networkten.com.au

Photo: Getty