Researchers have come up with new technology that lets textiles absorb more flu antibodies, a development likely to make face masks more effective in warding off the flu bug, the Textile Industry Research Institute of Gunma said.

Textiles with influenza antibodies aren’t new on the market, but the technology currently in use involves dipping fibers in a liquid with antibodies. Textiles treated this way are capable of trapping only a small amount of antibodies.

But the institute’s latest findings, announced Thursday, will allow an increased amount of antibodies to be absorbed by changing the normally negative surface of polyester to positive.

“The new method will enable (fibers) to absorb a large number” of antibodies, said Yasuhito Kondo, a researcher at the institute based in Kiryu, Gunma Prefecture, who was involved in the project.

Kondo and his colleagues had difficulty enabling negatively charged polyester to absorb antibodies, which are also negatively charged.

A breakthrough came when they used cationic polyester fibers, causing about 3,000 times the amount of antibodies to adhere to the fibers, compared with precharged ones.

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