SCIENTISTS at the Universities of York, Leeds, and Helsinki say they are a step closer to cracking the ‘Enigma Code’ of the common cold virus.

Researchers found a ‘hidden code’ within the genome of Human Parechovirus, a member of the Picornavirus family that includes the common cold, polio, and hand foot and mouth disease.

They found that the details of the decoding mechanism appear identical in all strains of the virus, potentially allowing a single drug to treat them all, something that is not possible with a vaccine.

The team is now working to screen for potential anti-viral drugs that target this decoding mechanism. Successful future partnerships with the pharma-industry and further funding support could see drug development results within ten years.

York’s Professor Reidun Twarock said the common cold infects more than two billion people annually.

He added: “We are excited to make this crucial step forward.”