ATHENS, Ga. -- University of Georgia researchers have received a federal grant of more than $1.1 million for their work on fighting the flu.

The grant from the National Institutes of Health is to be distributed over the next four years. The researchers' works are refining a nanotechnology-based method that uses laser beams to more accurately predict emerging influenza strains, especially the most deadly ones.

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The flu kills thousands of people worldwide each year. Many people get flu vaccines, but those aren't always effective because it's difficult to predict the flu strain for a given year.

Chemistry professor Richard Dluhy is working with veterinary infectious disease professors Stephen Tompkins and Ralph Tripp to refine a method used to identify virus strains so researchers can quickly detect components in viruses that affect influenza virulence.