Cold, cough and sore throat - do you have a cold all the time? Currently, many Austrians are affected by acute respiratory infections. Especially children and their parents seem to get cold viruses particularly often at the moment. Common symptoms are a scratchy throat or even a severe sore throat as well as a cold, headache and even fever.
Acute respiratory diseases
After years of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people suffering from acute respiratory illnesses is significantly above pre-pandemic levels according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), exceeding even the peak of the influenza wave in 2017/20181. According to the RKI, up to 11% of the population in Germany was affected by acute respiratory illnesses this winter1. Children in particular seem to fall ill particularly frequently at present, which has also manifested itself this winter with infection figures of up to 24%2.
Is the common cold contagious?
The composition of viruses that affect the respiratory tract varies. The most common cold viruses are rhinoviruses, influenza viruses and various strains of coronavirus.
About 30 to 50% of all colds are caused by rhinoviruses. They are the most common cause of flu-like infections. On average, an adult experiences two to three colds per year, while children have an average of 8-12 respiratory infections per year3. These viruses are transmitted mainly by direct contact, but also by droplets (aerosols). Even one to two days before the onset of the first symptoms, an influenza infection can be contagious. After the onset of symptoms, you are infectious for at least two to three days.
Viral infection: cold symptoms at a glance
The viruses use the nasopharynx as a portal of entry and multiply in the cells of the respiratory tract. Depending on the virus, different types of spreading and inflammatory reactions subsequently occur, which influence the expression of the disease. In the case of rhinoviruses, after an incubation period of 24-72 hours, symptoms of a cold such as rhinitis or sore throat usually develop, as well as often difficult breathing, a blocked nose and pain when swallowing. Rhinovirus infections are mainly confined to the upper respiratory tract, but can also predispose to middle ear infections, sinusitis, or even chronic bronchitis. Especially in young children, the elderly and immunocompromised persons, rhinoviruses can also cause respiratory diseases of the lower respiratory tract.
Inhibit spread of respiratory viruses with 2-deoxy-D-glucose.
Currently, there is no established treatment or vaccination against rhinoviruses. Therefore, only the symptoms of an infection can be treated, but not the virus itself.
Based on their research findings at the Medical University of Vienna, the physician Dr. Guido Gualdoni and immunologist Prof. Johannes Stöckl founded the Vienna-based company G.ST Antivirals. The researchers found that cold viruses require high amounts of sugar molecules to replicate in the host cell. Using the non-utilizable sugar molecule 2-deoxy-D-glucose, the researchers cut off the sugar supply to the viruses and thus stop their multiplication4. 2-Deoxy-D-glucose has been shown in experimental cell trials to have antiviral activity against a variety of respiratory viruses, such as rhinoviruses or the pandemic virus SARS-CoV2. In parts of the world, it is already being used successfully in tablet form against acute coronavirus infections.
The Viennese company G.ST Antivirals is now aiming for the first time to use this molecule as a nasal spray to prevent respiratory infections.
Apply now: Clinical study investigating new drug against the common cold
3 Winther B, Gwaltney JM Jr, Mygind N, Hendley JO. Viral-induced rhinitis. Am J Rhinol 1998; 12:17.
4 Gualdoni GA et al. Rhinovirus induces an anabolic reprogramming in host cell metabolism essential for viral replication. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Jul 24;115(30):E7158-E7165. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1800525115. Epub 2018 Jul 9. PMID: 29987044; PMCID: PMC6065033.
5 Fazekas T, Eickhoff P, Pruckner N, Vollnhofer G, Fischmeister G, Diakos C, Rauch M, Verdianz M, Zoubek A, Gadner H, Lion T. Lessons learned from a double-blind randomised placebo-controlled study with a iota-carrageenan nasal spray as medical device in children with acute symptoms of common cold. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012 Sep 5;12:147. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-12-147. PMID: 22950667; PMCID: PMC3575307.