Procarta CSO recieves national award for entrepeneurship

Most Promising Innovator of the Year

Dr Michael McArthur has been named the winner of 'Most Promising Innovator of the Year' award at BBSRC's Innovator of the Year event for his work using novel antibacterials to combat drug-resistant bacterial infections. The award carries with it a prize of £5000.

Dr McArthur has developed novel technologies to combat drug resistant bacterial infections, such as MRSA. He has shown that using stretches of DNA sequence as 'decoys' can disrupt the essential genes of bacteria, allowing antibiotics to kill off the bacteria. A spin-out company from the John Innes Centre, Procarta Biosystems, is now taking this technology through to the marketplace.

"Over the last decade all the major pharmaceutical companies have been bringing fewer antibiotics to the market, some have even departed the field altogether, a trend that is likely to be exacerbated by resistance issues. Procarta's novel solution not only tackles antibiotic resistance but also is a solution which should be far less susceptible to resistance" said Michael.

"We are currently developing a therapy for MRSA and other difficult to treat superbugs, for which there are few therapeutic options. If we can bring this to the clinic it will represent an entirely novel type of antibiotic that will be effective against resistant strains and will help prevent the spread of resistance in the future."

Procarta is the first mover in the field of using DNA-based drugs in this way, and hopes to use revenue generated from bringing its first product to market in the next year to develop a pipeline of further potential applications of the DNA decoy technology.

Professor Douglas Kell, BBSRC Chief Executive said: "We applaud the three winners and we are delighted to take this opportunity to congratulate them for their achievements. All seven finalists have produced really impressive results in their work and I do not envy the members of the judging panel who had to choose between them."

"BBSRC is pleased to be able to recognise and reward researchers who are making extraordinary progress in translating their research into applications that are of benefit socially and for UK Plc. That said, we are also well aware that these brilliant few are merely the tip of the iceberg. UK bioscience is benefiting millions of people and generating huge wealth for the UK economy through, for example, the development of new drugs, including new antibiotics to tackle superbugs; higher yielding crops and better animal vaccines; strategies for healthier ageing; and sustainable and environmentally sound sources of fuel."

The Innovator of the Year Award is a competition designed to recognise and reward scientists who are ensuring that the UK's excellent bioscience research is translated into outcomes that positively affect quality of life for everyone. The award, now in its second year, was established with a view to encouraging researchers to consider the potential of their research and take the necessary steps to maximise the social and economic impact of the excellent work they do.

The seven finalists were selected from 36 nominations by an independent judging panel to compete in each of the three categories (Commercial Innovator of the Year, Social Innovator of the Year and Most Promising Innovator of the Year) and for the overall prize. The finalists presented to the judging panel earlier on in the day and then attended the awards ceremony and gala dinner where the winners were announced.

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