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Flu Trap That Captures Viruses Stops Spread Of Infection

Could this “germ trap” save you from the flu virus?

A new technology developed by biochemists from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom is touted to contain the flu. In partnership with biotech firm Virustatic, the researchers produced a fabric coating that isolates viruses responsible for seasonal and pandemic flu.

The so-called germ trap — which can be incorporated in filters of masks or air filtration systems — is said to have a virus capture rate of more than 99 percent.

Virustatic technical director and investor Paul Hope dubbed the technology a novel preventive approach to disease with transformative potential.

“We’re now at the stage where we’re looking for strategic partners to take this technology forwards in terms of developing new products,” Hope says.

The technology is based on anchoring proteins first to carbon cloth and then to simpler, more affordable materials such as cotton. The carbohydrates attached to the protein surface are tweaked to mimic those on the surface of human esophagus and nasal passage cells.

The stabilized protein can contain more than 99 percent of flu viruses coming into contact with it in a cheap, easily produced product, explained the researchers.

The hope, added Dr. Ian Rowles from the university, is to tackle all forms of pathogens using the technology in the long run. Other targets include potentially fatal viruses such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

The germ trap also holds potential in producing blood filter membranes for the first time to remove the pathogens before they can strike and damage their host.

In 2015, scientists from University of Melbourne in Australia and Fudan University in Shanghai, China, found out how the immunity cells of the body “remember” flu viruses. Studying people infected with a deadly bird flu virus in China back in 2013, the team chanced upon how the “army of hitmen” T-cells in the body memorize flu strains and annihilate them.

The discovery leaned toward the creation of a vaccine that offers natural protection against all types of influenza.

In the United States, an upswing in late-winter influenza cases in Illinois, Indiana, and North Carolina prompted stricter visitor regulations in hospitals.

Meanwhile, health professionals continue to advise the public to wash their hands frequently, stay at home when ill, and consider the flu shot if they are still unvaccinated.

Photo: Eneas De Troya | Flickr

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