LONDON, September 8 /PRNewswire/ --

New treatment using a light-activated drug could revolutionise the fight against hospital "superbug", MRSA (otherwise known as meticillin resistant staphylococcus aureus) it was revealed at the British Pharmaceutical Conference (BPC) in Manchester.

MRSA can sometimes live on the skin or in the nose and has no harmful effects unless it gets under the skin, for example in wounds, where it can cause infection. If MRSA gets into the bloodstream it can cause serious infections, for example pneumonia, septicaemia, or osteomyelitis (in the bones).

Doctors do not apply antibiotics directly to MRSA-infected wounds as they do not penetrate deep enough into the wound to have an effect, or can irritate the surrounding skin, slowing down wound healing. Worryingly, MRSA is now resistant to most types of standard antibiotics.

Investigations underway by Corona Cassidy and co-workers at the School of Pharmacy, Queen's University of Belfast, move away from the antibiotic approach. The treatment would involve delivering a drug known as a 'photosensitiser' to infected wounds and activating it using a special type of light, triggering it to kill the MRSA. The concept is known as photodynamic antimicrobial chemotherapy or 'PACT'.

In laboratory studies, the team has examined a hydrogel that holds and then releases the light-reacting drug. The system was effective in killing the bacteria when the drug was released from the hydrogel.

Miss Cassidy said: "PACT is an exciting potential treatment of MRSA-infected wounds. More laboratory work must be carried out to optimise our treatment conditions to ensure that all exposed bacteria are killed."

Notes to Editors

The British Pharmaceutical Conference 2008 (BPC)

BPC 2008: Pharmacy in the 21st Century: Adding years to life and life to years. In 2008, as the NHS marks its 60th anniversary year, BPC will examine how pharmacy and the pharmaceutical services are helping to add years to life and life to the year of the UK population. The profession of pharmacy plays an important role in meeting the healthcare challenges associated with the UK's ageing population.

How can pharmacists contribute to caring for the population as well as ensuring quality of life? Increasingly, scientists and practitioners have to consider the cost implications of this conundrum, and the evidence base for all interventions is becoming of paramount importance: BPC 2008 will debate these issues and open up discussion on them. Visit:

The main sponsors of BPC 2008 are: Boots The Chemists (Lead Sponsor), AstraZeneca (Associate Sponsor and BPC-PJ Careers Forum Platinum Sponsor), Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA) (Associate Sponsor) and GSK (BPC-PJ Careers Forum Platinum Sponsor).

Research released at BPC is published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology (JPP).

For media enquiries please contact: The British Pharmaceutical Conference 2008 Press Office, (September 7, 8, and 9 only): Tel: +44(0)161-827-8765, Tel: +44(0)161-827-8766, Tel: +44(0)161-827-8767, Tel: +44(0)161-827-8768, Fax: +44(0)161-839-9311, Mobile: Tel: +44(0)7792-109-834, Tel: +44(0)7739-533-658 Or: The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain's Public Relations Unit: +44(0)20-7572-2335