Stay warm – and keep colds at bay

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Published: Tuesday 6th January 2015 by The News Editor

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There is, famously, no cure for the common cold b ut scientists believe they may have found a way of avoiding the sniffles – and the answer has been right under our noses.

Preventative measures as simple as wrapping a scarf around the face could help keep body temperatures up, denying the rhinovirus which triggers the ailment a chance to thrive , according to researchers in the US .

Specifically, keeping our noses warm could be key to keeping healthy as winter temperatures plummet, with researchers at Yale university suggesting the common cold virus is more likely to reproduce itself in the cooler climes of the nose than at the core body temperature.

To investigate the relationship between temperature and immune response, researchers examined the cells taken from the airways of mice. They compared the immune response to rhinovirus when cells were incubated at 37C (98.6F), or core body temperature, and at the cooler 33C (91.4F).

Study senior author and Yale professor of immunobiology Akiko Iwasaki said: ” We found that the innate immune response to the rhinovirus is impaired at the lower body temperature compared to the core body temperature.

“In general, the lower the temperature, it seems the lower the innate immune response to viruses.”

In other words, she said, the research may give credence to the old wives’ tale that people should keep warm, and even cover their noses, to avoid catching colds.

Researchers have long known that the rhinovirus replicates more readily in the slightly cooler environment of the nasal cavity than in the warmer lungs.

But the focus of prior studies has been on how body temperature influenced the virus as opposed to the immune system.

Although the research was conducted on mouse cells, it offers clues that may benefit people, including the roughly 20% of those who harbour rhinovirus in noses at any given time.

The study was published in the Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences.

Published: Tuesday 6th January 2015 by The News Editor

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