December 5, 2011

Cold Plasma: Cure For The Common Cold?

Inhaling streams of electrically charged gas known as cold plasma could help cure the common cold, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany are claiming.

According to a December 4 report by the Deccan Chronicle, an English-language publication in India, the scientists say that they have discovered that a stream of the ionized gas "deactivates" virus, including those that cause colds.

In fact, when those viruses were exposed to cold plasma for just four minutes, nearly all of them were made that they could no longer spread or cause illness. Only one in one million were still able to replicate, lead researcher Dr. Julia Zimmermann told Telegraph Science Correspondent Richard Gray.

The findings, which have been published in the Institute of Physic's Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, have led the researchers to believe that cold plasma devices could be effective as hand sanitizers in hospitals, treatments against colds and other respiratory viruses (including the flu), and possibly even to prevent the transmission viruses such as HIV through blood transfusion.

"The researchers are already working on developing the technique to treat respiratory infections and have received approval to test the device in animal models," Gray reported on Sunday. "They believe that, in the long term, plasma could be inhaled directly into the lungs to treat viruses.

"Illnesses such as the common cold are difficult to treat and patients have to rely on their immune systems to fight off the infections," he added. "Previous research has also shown that cold plasmas are effective at killing bacteria and can be used to sterilize water for up to seven days."

Scientifically speaking, plasma is a fourth state of matter, joining solid, liquid, and gas. It is created when particles or either liquids or gases become electrically charges, and is said to be similar to the substance found inside plasma televisions or novelty plasma globes.

"Usually very high temperatures are needed to sustain plasmas, but scientists have recently found they can create cold plasmas at temperatures of around 104 degrees F (40C), which can be safely touched by the human hand," Gray said.


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