Defining the biological basis of Staphylococcus aureus carriage


  • Prof Sharon Peacock

    London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

  • Prof John Danesh

    University of Cambridge

  • Prof Julian Parkhill

    Wellcome Sanger Institute

  • Dr Joan Geoghegan

    Trinity College Dublin

  • Dr Carl Anderson

    Wellcome Sanger Institute

Project summary

About 20% of healthy humans carry the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. Although carriage alone is harmless, carriers are at greater risk of developing of S. aureus infection. This is particularly important when people are having medical treatment, since S. aureus is the most common cause of healthcare-related infection. 

We want to find out why some people carry S. aureus, while others do not. We will screen 25,000 healthy people to determine who is carrying the bacterium and then look at their genetic code and related biological markers, such as blood groups and iron levels, to detect differences that could explain carriage. We will also consider lifestyle factors and identify the pattern of other bacteria present in the nose, where S. aureus is most commonly found.

This knowledge will inform the future development of treatments that control carriage and could help prevent S. aureus infection.