Flu woman
Scientists could have found a cure for the common cold www.cbc.ca

Scientists working on a cure for polio have stumbled upon a treatment they believe could also spell the end for the common cold.

A team of British researchers studying the structure of the EV71 virus, which causes hand, foot and mouth disease designed a compound which also prevents the cold virus from releasing a genetic material that causes the infection to be passed on.

The team hope their compound could ultimately eradicate polio worldwide.

U.S. Food Safety
Scientists are studying a compound they hope could cure potentially killer illnesses REUTERS

On average, adults have about two to four colds a year while children have three to eight as their immune system is more susceptible to infection.

Women tend to get more colds than men, possibly because they're more likely to come into close contact with children.

Colds are also more frequent during the winter months. This may be because people are more likely to stay indoors and be in close contact with each other.

Professor Dave Stuart, of the University of Oxford, which is working alongside scientists from Leeds, Beijing and Innsbruck on the project, said: "By targeting a structural feature also found in related viruses, it should be possible to devise similar therapeutics to target them.

"Within the field, I am aware of one company that is already making progress in targeting the major common cold virus.

"Our work is still at an early stage, but we are working with academic groups in China to take the inhibitor forward."

But do not throw away your handkerchief just yet.

So far only limited tests have been done and it could be years before a cure is available.