London: Inhaling streams of electrically charged gas could help overcome the common cold, a new study reveals.
Scientists have discovered that a stream of matter known as cold plasma can deactivate viruses similar to those that cause the common cold.
Exposure to plasma for two minutes prevents the viruses from replicating, meaning they could not spread or cause disease.
It has led to hopes that cold plasma devices 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 Telegraph reported.
The researchers behind the project believe cold plasma could even be used to prevent viruses such as HIV from being spread in blood transfusions.
Julia Zimmermann, a researcher from the Max-Planck Institute for Extra-terrestrial Physics in Germany, found that when exposed to cold plasma for 240 seconds, almost all the viruses were inactivated - just one in a million viruses was able to replicate.
"Cold plasmas are potentially 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.