Researchers have come up with a novel material that joins up with the fiber in face masks, air conditioning and air cleaning filters to capture flu viruses.
Xuebing Li, Peixing Wu and colleagues explain that in an average year, influenza kills almost 300,000 people and sickens millions more worldwide.
The constant emergence of new strains of virus that shrug off vaccines and anti-influenza medications has led to an urgent need for new ways of battling this modern-day scourge.
So the scientists sought a new approach, using a substance termed chitosan made from ground shrimp shells.
The scientists combined chitosan with substances that the flu virus attaches to in order to infect cells.
They found that this new version of chitosan ideal for attaching to fibers of face masks and air filters was highly effective in capturing flu virus.
The material could become an important addition to vaccinations, anti-influenza medications, and other measures in battling flu, they suggest.
The report has been published in ACS' journal Biomacromolecules.