Plasma may cure common cold: Scientists

Plasma may cure common cold: Scientists

Plasma may cure common cold: Scientists

Researchers at Max-Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany discovered that a stream of cold plasma -- a stream of ionised gas -- deactivates viruses similar to those found in the common cold.

When exposed to the plasma for just 240 seconds, almost all the viruses were inactivated, meaning they couldn't spread or cause disease, the researchers said.

The findings, they said, raised hope that the gas could be used as hand sanitisers in hospitals and even provide a new way of treating the common cold and other respiratory viruses such as flu, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Dr Julia Zimmermann, who led the research, said it could even be used to prevent viruses such as HIV from being spread in blood transfusions.

"Cold plasmas are potentially a very effective agent for control of viral infections. There are hopes that cold plasmas can become an effective tool in hospital hygiene," she said.

The researchers are already working on developing the technique to treat respiratory infections and have received approval to test the device in animal models. They believe that, in the long term, plasma could be inhaled directly into the lungs to treat viruses.

Illnesses such as the common cold are difficult to treat and patients have to rely on their immune systems to fight off the infections.

Previous research has also shown that cold plasmas are effective at killing bacteria and can be used to sterilise water for up to seven days.

The latest research, published in the Institute of Physic's Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, suggests that the plasmas damage the proteins and DNA that make up viruses.

Plasma is a fourth state of matter in addition to solid, liquid and gases, and is created when particles of gas or liquid become electrically charged. It is similar to the kind of material found inside decorative plasma balls and plasma televisions.