If you’ve already been bedridden by this years cold and flu season this news may be music to your slightly blocked ears.

Researchers are now one step closer to discovering a cure for the common cold and flu. Best of all the breakthrough happened right here in Australia!

Melbourne scientists are working on a new prototype drug after discovering a protein that is activated by viruses, like influenza and a cold.

They found that the protein Nox2 oxidase was activated by viruses including influenza and rhniovirus. This suppressed the body’s main immune responses and allowed the virus to prosper.

“Essentially this protein, when activated by a virus, dampens the ability of the immune system to clear that virus,” Dr Stavros Selemidis explained to The Australian.

woman-lying-down-with-the-cold-and-flu

So no matter how healthy your immune system is this protein, when activated, inhibits its ability to function properly.The new prototype drug blocks the protein giving the immune system greater power to fight off the virus.

“With this test drug, we were able to almost abolish the load of the virus in the lung tissue, compared to an uninfected control,” said Dr Selemidis.

They were astounded with the results from initial trials. “It was a staggering reduction of over 90 per cent in the viral load, or burden, of the virus. Lung inflammation was down by over 80 per cent.”

While they’re still in the early stages of developing this drug it holds promising signs for a future cure for the common cold and flu. It may even be able to assist with other viral infections, “theoretically it should operate against dengue and against HIV but we haven’t tested that yet,” Dr Selemidis said.

A drug to lessen the extent of, or potentially cure, influenza and rhinovirus is still in the distant future.

To avoid the cold and flu this season try the following:

1. Get a flu shot

The annual flu vaccine is your best protection against contracting the illness. While it isn’t a guarantee that you won’t get sick it protects against the most prominent strains anticipated.  This year’s vaccine protects against four strains and can be administered from six months of age.

2. Wash your hands thoroughly

The cold and flu are highly contagious viral infections so it is important to maintain proper hand washing hygiene. Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, especially before a eating.

While antibacterial sanitisers are convenient soap and water is the best way to kill potential viruses on the hands.

3. Focus on proper nutrition, exercise and sleep

A combination of nutrition, regular exercise and adequate sleep are essential to overall health and well being. As well as being an essential ingredient to ensure the health of your immune system.

4. Keep your distance

Being highly contagious it is best to keep a distance from anyone who is suffering from a cold or flu as it can be easily spread through close contact, coughing and sneezing.

While it may be tempting to continue working and socialising while sick it is best to limit contact. You also need to ensure you sanitise often to reduce the risk of infecting others.