WSVN -- We know it when we get it: runny nose, sore throats and those horrible coughs.
Shyam Mohapatra, Ph.D., University of South Florida: "You know, sometimes, we think we have something, and the next day, we are fine. It's that kind of infection."
But California researchers say the kind of infection from the virus that causes a cold could actually infect and kill tumor cells.
Dr. Shyam Mohapatra: "They have now found some insight in how these genes might be working. There are two genes in the common cold virus."
Dr. Shyam Mohapatra says, he and researchers in Tampa are also investigating the use of viruses to kill cancer cells.
Dr. Shyam Mohapatra: "A lot of people are trying to find what's the best virus that they can use without causing any harm, at the same time taking down the tumors."
Dr. Mohapatra gave us this time-lapsed video to show how it works. The red areas are structures inside a cell. The green dots, viruses. Watch as the green dots enter into the red areas. The viruses are actually hijacking the cell, using it to produce thousands of new viruses. Eventually, all you can see is green, because the viruses have killed the genes in the original cell.
Dr. Shyam Mohapatra: "They're protecting your genome from any cell to becoming a tumor cell, right? So it's going to prevent that. It's going kill that cell before it becomes a tumor cell."
And the hope is, at some point, virtually harmless viruses could be used to kill existing cancer cells.
Diana Diaz: "Researchers in Great Britain are doing similar studies and will begin human trials this year to see if the cold virus will destroy cancer cells."