Common Cold Centre

Man with cold in bed

Our Common Cold Centre was one of the world’s only centres devoted entirely to the development of new treatments for coughs, colds and hayfever.

The centre closed its doors in March 2017 after almost 30 years of cutting-edge research.

With initial funding from the Richardson Vicks Company (a Procter and Gamble Company), the Common Cold Centre was established in 1988 as an independent University-based centre whose purpose was to conduct clinical trials on new treatments for the common cold and flu.

Led by Professor Ron Eccles as its overall Director, and Dr Martez Jawad as Medical Director, the Common Cold Centre swiftly became the go-to place for clinical trials, clinical research and media comment on the common cold.

Research

  • £13 million income generated.

Over the course of its operations the centre has provided a unique service to the pharmaceutical industry for clinical trials on cold and flu treatments, such as decongestants, analgesics, herbal medicines, throat lozenges and cough medicines. Since its inception, the centre has conducted more than a 100 clinical trials, and most over-the-counter common cold treatments have been tested at the centre to determine their safety and efficacy.

The centre’s clinical trials have involved thousands of student volunteers, and have generated an income of more than £13 million.

  • Over 100clinical trials.

The profits generated from clinical trials have funded 27 Ear Nose and Throat surgeons to study with Professor Eccles for research projects leading to a Masters degree or doctorate of medicine, and a further 12 students to study for a PhD or Masters degree.

  • Over 200articles.

Professor Eccles has published over 200 articles in clinical and scientific journals on the research conducted at the Centre. This research has primarily focused on the mechanisms of the symptoms of colds and flu, and how these symptoms could be measured in clinical trials.

The Centre’s research has also seen Professor Eccles travel the world and work with some of the world’s biggest companies including GSK, Pfizer, Novartis, Boots and Bayer.

Media and public interest

Due to its unique position and high research output, the Common Cold Centre soon became the place for expert media comment. Throughout its operations, the centre has featured in articles in the Wall Street Journal and The Guardian, as well as in publications, and television and radio broadcasts across the world. Professor Eccles has also lent his expertise to a South Korean film crew making a documentary about the common cold.

Educating the general public on the common cold and its treatments was also of significant interest to Professor Eccles. As well as his many media appearances, he has also delivered a number of public engagement talks to organisations such as the Royal Institution, Rotary, Probus, the Women’s Institute, and various scientific societies, science café’s and charities.

The future

Through almost 30 years of research, our Common Cold Centre has made many important contributions to society’s understanding of the common cold and its potential treatments.

Despite the closure of the Centre, we continue to play a leading role in understanding infection and immunity. The School of Biosciences remains a world-leading centre for research and, in addition, we have established the Systems Immunity Research Centre which takes a holistic approach to the control of infection and the mechanisms that determine an effective immune response.

Contact

For more information on the Common Cold Centre, or cold and flu research, please contact Professor Ronald Eccles on eccles@cardiff.ac.uk.