Any of a group of picornaviruses capable of causing common colds in humans. The virus is thought to be transmitted to the upper respiratory tract by airborne droplets. Because of the great number of cold viruses, vaccines against them are virtually impossible to develop. Seealso adenovirus.
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Rhinovirus (from the Greek rhin-, which means "nose") is a genus of the Picornaviridae family of viruses. Rhinoviruses are the most common viral infective agents in humans, and a causative agent of the common cold. There are over 110 serologic virus types that cause cold symptoms, and rhinoviruses are responsible for approximately 30% to 50% of all cases.
Rhinoviruses have single-stranded positive sense RNA genomes of between 7.2 and 8.5kb in length. At the 5′ end of the genome is a virus-encoded protein, and like mammalian mRNA, there is a 3′ poly-A tail. Structural proteins are encoded in the 5′ region of the genome and non structural at the end. This is the same for all picornaviruses. The viral particles themselves are not enveloped and are icosahedral in structure.
Infection occurs rapidly, with the virus adhering to surface receptors within 15 minutes of entering the respiratory tract. The incubation period is generally 8-10 hours before symptoms begin to occur.
Rhinoviruses rarely cause lower respiratory tract disease probably because they grow poorly at 37°C.
Pleconaril is an orally bioavailable antiviral drug being developed for the treatment of infections caused by picornaviruses. This drug acts by binding to a hydrophobic pocket in VP1 and stabilizes the protein capsid to such an extent that the virus cannot release its RNA genome into the target cell. When tested in volunteers, during the clinical trials, this drug caused a significant decrease in mucus secretions and illness-associated symptoms. Pleconaril is not currently available for treatment of rhinoviral infections, as its efficacy in treating these infections is under further evaluation.