Fabric coating could be used to line masks and air filters to block the viral particles that cause influenza

Scientists have developed a fabric coating that can effectively trap and stop the spread of the flu. 

The material could be used to line masks and air filters to block the viral particles that cause influenza.

With a similar formation to the carbohydrate structures on the surfaces of the cells which cover the oesophagus, or food pipe, the fabric is able to stop the flu, according to its creators. 

There is no cure for the flu virus, and most people recover within a few days. However, it can be deadly for the most vulnerable, and pregnant women, over 65s, those with long term health conditions, the very overweight, carers, health and social workers or people live in residential care are eligible for a free flu jab on the NHS.

Researchers at the University of Manchester are developing the technology alongside biotec firm Virustatic. 

Dr Ian Rowles, from the University of Manchester, said: "This has been an exciting collaboration with Virustatic, and our research does indeed show that this technology can slow the spread of flu viruses."

Researchers created the technology by attaching glycoproteins to carbon cloth, then to other cheaper material such as cotton. 

They found that the molecules trapped over 99 per cent of the flu viruses that they came into contact with. 

Scientists plan to develop the fabric to capture other viruses such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars).

Current evidence shows that washing hands is the best method for preventing the flu from spreading, according to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention. 

While the face mask is effective in protecting those inside hospitals against disease, the New York Times reported, this drops when they are worn outside for unknown reasons.

Advising on the accessories worn to protect against H1N1 specifically, for example, the CDC said they guard against droplets reaching the mouth and nose, but don’t currently protect against small particles that contain viruses.