Fight back against MRSA to be started with a sniff


An innovative anti-bacterial spray that will kill just MRSA is being developed by Norwich Research Park scientists. The spray, which can be used in the nose to decolonise patients prior to major surgery, promises to speed recovery time and reduce the number of repeat operations.

Novel Procarta technology to disable killer bacteria in a nasal spray

Procarta Biosystems has developed a novel type of antibiotic specifically to treat MRSA and is pleased to announce a collaborative research project funded by the University of East Anglia (UEA)MedicalSchoolto adapt this for use as a nasal spray.

For many people the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) naturally and harmlessly lives in the front part of their noses and is not considered a significant threat.  It is when the drug-resistant strains (MRSA) colonise the nose that there is a marked chance that someone undergoing surgery will develop an infection.

MRSA infections after major surgery, such as knee or hip replacements, are particularly serious as the patient is weakened, making recovery from the infection more challenging than usual.  When the infection surrounds the replaced joint the remedy can sometimes only be to repeat the operation and put in a new device, dramatically increasing costs.

Procarta has discovered how to turn off essential genes in bacteria thus preventing the growth of the pathogen and spread of the infection.

Dr. Michael McArthur, CSO of Procarta Biosystems comments, “What we can offer is a novel approach in the fight against antibiotic resistant bacteria. Targeting gene expression is a new concept and so far no bacterial strains resistant to this approach have been identified. This means that the therapy is not only effective against drug-resistant strains but, with judicious use, may also suppress the rise of future resistances.”

On Norwich Research Park, there is considerable knowledge of how to translate this type of disruptive research to bring it into the clinic: bench to bedside, and Dr McArthur’s company has built a strong collaborative network with fellow scientists particularly at the University of East Anglia (UEA), the Institute of Food Research (IFR) and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH).

Alastair Watson, Professor of Translational Medicine, UEA said: “Procarta has added an important new weapon to our armoury. This collaboration is a good example of how the public and private sector can work together, hopefully, to bring much needed new drugs to the clinic”.


About Procarta Biosystems Limited

Procarta Biosystems Limited is a company formed by The John Innes Centre, Plant Bioscience Limited (PBL) and the founding scientists Dr Michael McArthur and Professor Mervyn Bibb.  It has received in excess of £1 million in equity-based funding.  The company began operations in July 2008 and is currently headquartered in the Norwich BioIncubator based on the Norwich Research Park. (

About Norwich Research Park

TheNorwichResearchParkis a partnership betweenUniversityofEast Anglia, theNorfolkandNorwichUniversityHospital, four independent world-renowned research institutes namely the John Innes Centre,InstituteofFood Researchand The Genome Analysis Centre (all strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)) and The Sainsbury Laboratory linked to the Gatsby Charitable Foundation. The BBSRC is itself a partner as is the John Innes Foundation.

The vision of theNorwichResearchParkpartners and local government stakeholders is to develop a thriving science and innovation business park over the next decade by supporting spin-out and start up companies and through attracting inward investment from large corporate organisations involved in science and technology. TheNorwichResearchParkis home to around 30 science and IT based businesses.

With over 11,000 people including 2,700 scientists,NorwichResearchParkisEurope’s leading centre for research in food, health and the environment.

In 2011, the Government awarded BBSRC £26M to invest inNorwichResearchParkto deliver innovation from the research base and generate economic growth and job creation. The investment will help to create and support new companies and jobs based on world-leading bioscience.


About the University of East Anglia

The University of East Anglia (UEA) is ranked in the top one per cent of universities in the world and is consistently in the top ten for student satisfaction. It is a leading member of theNorwichResearchPark, one ofEurope’s biggest concentrations of researchers in the fields of environment, health and plant science.

UEA’s Norwich Medical School has a reputation for exciting and innovative approaches to education, supported by a strong and rapidly developing research programme. Around 90 per cent of UEA research was rated internationally excellent in the last Research Assessment Exercise, with over 50 per cent ‘world leading’.



Nina Beadle/ Rachel Holdsworth, PR consultants, Holdsworth Associates, Tel: 01954 202789, email:,

NorwichResearchPark: Dr Jane Heavens, Projects & Communications Manager, Tel: 01603 274442, email: 

UniversityofEast Anglia Media Relations: Tel: +44 (0) 1603 593496, email:



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