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World-leading common cold centre celebrates 20 years

21 Hydref 2008

Common Cold

The world’s first research centre dedicated to studying symptoms of the common cold - the most common disease for humankind - is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

The Common Cold Research Centre, based at the School of Biosciences was established in 1988 and has become recognised for its innovative and ground-breaking research around the world. For the last 20 years it has devoted time to investigating how to treat the symptoms of the common cold, helping test and develop some of the best known medicines.

Under the expert guidance of Professor Ron Eccles, director of the Common Cold Research Centre, teams of scientists in the self-funded clinical trials centre have pioneered many ‘firsts’ in the search for relief of the common cold, hay fever and influenza.

The Centre has led the world in answering some of the most commonly asked questions about the common cold, including whether being cold can make you catch a cold and why does one nostril get blocked when we have a cold.

Professor Ron Eccles said: "This is a momentous occasion for the Centre and for the University. We have built a reputation world wide as a centre of excellence for clinical trials on new treatments for common cold, influenza and nasal allergy.

"Our research strategy is to continue focusing on developing treatments for cold and flu by studying symptoms instead of the cold virus."

Major advances have been made in understanding cold symptoms such as blocked nose, runny nose, cough, sore throat and earache. New measurements have been developed to test the effectiveness of treatments on relieving these symptoms, such as a sound level meter to measure cough, and an acoustic rhinometer to measure nasal blockage. The Common Cold Centre has also been involved in developing new ideas as to why colds are more common in winter and how chilling may bring on a cold.

Taking a completely different approach to colds, recruiting students and staff with 'real colds' to test new treatments, the Common Cold Centre has been involved in testing most of the common cold treatments that are currently available from the pharmacy and supermarket including decongestants, cough medicines, antihistamines, vapo-rubs, nasal sprays, pain killers, placebos, plant extracts, herbal medicines, antioxidants, vitamins, antibiotics, sea weed extracts and probiotics.

2008 also marks the 125th anniversary of Cardiff University. Special events have been held throughout the year to commemorate the anniversary, with a special event to mark Founders’ Day taking place on 24 October 2008.