The human rhinoviruses (HRVs) infect the cells in the human respiratory system. They are among the smallest types of virus and there are over 100 recognised serotypes. HRVs belong to the genus Enterovirus of the Picornaviridae family and are categorised into 3 groups; A, B, and C. Rhinoviruses have no envelope, only a capsid that contains it’s single-stranded RNA genome.
HRVs are best known for causing the common cold, although it has also been implicated in causing bronchitis and is the virus seen most often in asthma attacks.
- Sore throat
- Nasal congestion
HRVs are transmitted from person to person by either direct contact, aerosols from sneezing and coughing or through objects (fomites).
HRV infections occur across the globe, usually in two seasonal peaks; early autumn and a smaller peak in Spring. Many different serotypes may be present at a given time in a particular geographic are or community.
Impact for Society – what are we doing?
HRVs cause more than half of cold-like illnesses, costing billions annually in medical visits and missed days of work. There is currently no vaccine for HRV infections, mainly due to the sheer number of serotypes and that each serotype does not provide immunity against other serotypes.
Work at the Institute focuses on discovering how the human rhinovirus enters cells and which proteins are involved. These proteins may then present a novel antiviral target which could potentially be used against other viruses within the picornavirus family, such as foot-and-mouth disease and polio.