This has led to the idea of "host-directed therapy" - essentially making our bodies inhospitable for the cold viruses.
An individual virus does not have everything it needs to replicate. Instead, it is dependent on infecting another cell and stealing some of the parts inside.
It is why scientists still argue whether viruses are truly alive.
A team at Stanford University and the University of California, San Francisco, found one of the components which the viruses were dependent upon.
Scientists started with human cells and then used gene-editing to turn off instructions inside our DNA one-by-one.
These modified cells were then exposed to a range of enteroviruses - this includes the rhinoviruses which cause the common cold, and more dangerous viruses that are closely related to polio and can cause paralysis.
He added: "This is a really good first step - the second step is to have a chemical that mimics this genetic deletion.
"I think development can go relatively quickly."
Exactly what role the protein plays in the viral replication is still uncertain, and will require further research.
For most people the common cold is more of an inconvenience than a threat to their health, but in asthmatics it can make their symptoms much worse and some of the enteroviruses can causes paralysis if they spread to the brain.
"There is increasing interest in developing treatments that target these host proteins, because it can potentially overcome virus mutation - one of the major barriers to developing effective broadly active antivirals.