SCIENTISTS believe they may have tracked down a vital weapon against killer swine flu - seaweed.
Research has shown that an extract of red seaweed - widely found around Scotland's coast - could be as effective at blocking the deadly H1N1 virus as current drug Tamiflu.
German doctor Andreas Grassauer said: "Influenza viruses still represent a substantial threat to public health on a global scale.
"And with increasing viral resistance to Tamiflu the need for alternatives has never been greater."
Researchers at Vienna University found that seaweed extract carrageenan helped create a barrier inside the nose and blocked cold and flu viruses, including swine flu.
Dr Grassauer said: "This confirms that carrageenan can be used as an alternative and should be further tested for prevention and treatment of influenza in clinical trials in humans."
News of the breakthrough came as mum Ashleigh Morrision continued to fight for her life in Crosshouse Hospital, Kilmarnock.
She is one of three pregnant woman battling swine flu at the Ayrshire hospital.
The other two women were in the early stages of pregnancy when they were diagnosed with the virus and were treated with powerful antibiotics in a atempt to blitz it.
Swine flu killed 69 people in Scotland last year.
Sunday Mail doc Gareth Smith said: "Tamiflu can cause side effects which leaves people feeling pretty grotty.
"And viruses are smart and can evolve - one tiny change can be enough to make current treatments ineffective.
"Over the next two or three years, there will be more and more strains of flu virus which may be resistant to Tamiflu. "There have not been any new antibiotics for the last 15 years or so.
"But if you can snort something up your nose that stops the virus getting into the body, that is very effective."