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By Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor
Last Updated: 1:42PM BST 24 Oct 2008
The characteristic effects of a cold are not brought about directly by the virus but by its ability to turn the body's own defences against itself, scientists have found.
Up to half of common colds are caused by various strains of the human rhinovirus and new research has shown the bug triggers a domino effect where the body's own defences over-react causing the familiar symptoms.
The findings could result in treatments for common colds caused by rhinovirus which strike hundreds of thousands of people each year in the UK.
Current treatments only work on allievating the symptoms rather than tackling the cause of the cold.