(GUARDIAN) — It’s a conundrum that has stumped scientists for centuries, but now researchers say they have taken a tantalising step forward in the quest to tackle the common cold.

The scourge of workplace, home and school playground, the common cold is predominantly caused by the rhinovirus. But attempts to thwart the pathogen by vaccination or antiviral drugs face a number of difficulties – not least because the virus comes in many forms and can mutate rapidly leading to drug resistance.

But now scientists say they have discovered a way to nobble the virus that could one day help those with conditions such as asthma and cystic fibrosis, for whom a cold is not merely a nuisance but a serious health risk.

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