Aside from being temporarily shunned by society and cumulatively costing our employers billions each year, most of us suffer no long-term damage from colds. But everyone wants a cure. And Stanford scientists may have found it.

Abstract illustration of a sick face with a runny nose

There are about 160 types 
of rhinovirus, representing 
about half of all cold nastiness. Rhinoviruses are mutation-prone and drug-resistant, which is how children and subway passengers can bring you a new one each month. But colds do have 
a weakness: They appear to need a specific protein in order to replicate within your cells. 

A team led by microbiologist and immunologist Jan Carette and biologist Or Gozani identified the protein, then temporarily disabled it in mice and in human cell cultures—which stopped reproduction of a broad range of enteroviruses, including rhinoviruses and those associated with asthma, encephalitis and polio. So put a tissue in your scrapbook, because colds may someday be a thing of the past.


Summer Moore Batte, ’99, is the editor of stanfordmag.org. Email her at summerm@stanford.edu.