St Andrews University has announced that scientists have made a "breakthrough" in the search for new flu treatments, engineering new proteins to combat the disease.
The Centre for Biomolecular Sciences at the establishment announced that the proteins are able to mask the sugar molecules in the respiratory tract that the influenza virus usually binds to, preventing the advances of a disease which affects thousands of elderly people each year.
A £150,000 award has been made available in order to develop novel treatments for related respiratory diseases.
Professor Garry Taylor said there is a constant threat of a major pandemic, particularly as the virus has become immune to the effects of one of the two drugs used to combat it.
He added: "Vaccines provide good protection against currently circulating strains of influenza but are not effective in giving protection against a completely new strain that may arise."
According to the NHS, a flu epidemic can be declared if 400 people in every 100,000 have the virus.
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