Norovirus, the winter vomiting bug, is unable to cause infections after coming into contact with the silver-impregnated bacteria.Researchers believe the same technique could be used to ward off other viruses, including those which cause flu and the common cold.
Belgian professor Willy Verstraete discovered a way of ‘studding’ harmless bacteria often found in probiotic yoghurts with nanoparticles of silver, each thinner than a human hair.
Sprayed up the nose or rubbed into the hands, the silver-studded bacteria stop any viruses that cross their path from infecting cells.
As viruses need to hijack a cell’s internal machinery to live and breed, barring them entry leads to their death.
The common cold wreaks havoc among all age groups but the huge number of different viruses behind the symptoms means that a cure has, so far, eluded scientists.