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New Vaccine Takes Aim at the Uncommon Cold

By Mason Spirit contributor on October 7, 2009

Colds may not always be as harmless as they seem. Human adenovirus type-3 is known as the “uncommon cold” because the infection’s symptoms—runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever—are eerily similar to those of the common cold, which is caused by the rhinovirus. The difference is that, unlike the common cold, the symptoms of the uncommon cold are typically more severe and even can be fatal.

Determined to stamp out this devastating infection, researchers from Mason, the University of Hong Kong, Guangzhou Children’s Hospital, the South China Institute of Technology, and the Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Sciences have developed a DNA-based vaccine that has effectively protected mice from the infection.

“Further study is required, but we hope that in the future, this simple, stable, and inexpensive vaccine can be mass-produced and made available to susceptible populations,” says Donald Seto, associate professor in Mason’s Department of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology and the only U.S.-based researcher involved in
the study.

Adenovirus type-3 thrives in nations with dense urban populations and has recently become prevalent in southern China and neighboring countries. It may also emerge in less likely spots with dense populations, such as schools, health care facilities, and military training bases in the United States.

Adenovirus outbreaks are difficult to control because the virus can live for weeks on environmental surfaces and spreads quickly through direct contact, aerosols, and contaminated drinking water.

–Marjorie Musick

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