Life-threatening viruses such as HIV, SARS, hepatitis and influenza, could soon be combatted in an unusual manner as researchers have demonstrated the effectiveness of plasma for inactivating and preventing the replication of adenoviruses.
When exposed to plasma the fourth state of matter in addition to solids, liquids and gases for a period of just 240 seconds, it was found that only one in a million viruses could still replicate practically all were inactivated.
The study, published in IOP Publishing's Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, is one of the first to concentrate specifically on viruses and builds on research that has already shown the usefulness of plasma in eradicating bacteria from skin (http://www.iop.org/news/09/november/page_42357.html) and sterilising water (http://www.iop.org/news/11/nov/page_52641.html).
Within a hospital environment, a plasma generating device could realistically rid hands of potentially lethal viruses that relay on a host organism to replicate and spread. In the long-term, plasma could be inhaled directly to treat viruses in the lungs, or applied to blood outside of the body to remove any viruses before transfusion.
The researchers, from the Max-Planck Institut fr extraterrestrische Physik and Technische Universitt Mnchen, specifically chose adenoviruses to examine as they are one of the most difficult viruses to inactivate. Illnesses resulting from this specific virus, for example, can only be managed by treating symptoms and complications of the infection, rather than targeting the actual virus itself.
Adenoviruses predominantly cause respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia and bronchitis and are hard to inactivate as the whole virus is encased in a protein layer, helping it to remain physically stable and tolerate moderate increases in
|Contact: Michael Bishop|
Institute of Physics