The government has set a target to halve MRSA rates by 2008
British scientists are working on a new way to combat the superbug MRSA.
Researchers at Brighton-based Destiny Pharma are testing a bactericidal compound in the hope it can be used in hospitals by 2011.
Official figures show in the last three months of last year there were more than 1,000 cases of MRSA in England.
Campaign group MRSA Action cautiously welcomed the news and called for more funding for research.
The new compound, codenamed XF-73, is applied as a gel into patients' noses.
Tests showed that the compound destroyed the five most common strains of MRSA in the nasal passage - and that the bug was unable to develop resistance, even after repeated exposure.
More tests 'needed'
The firm presented its findings to the European Congress on Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Barcelona last month.
However, critics said that was no evidence that killing MRSA in the nasal passage would prevent patients developing fatal infections, as the bug can be found anywhere on the body.
Derek Butler, chairman of MRSA Action, said he was interested in "anything in the development of cures or treatment for MRSA" and was hopeful the research would prove beneficial.
But he added: "I think more tests need to be done on it. We need to be careful in saying we have beaten the resistance problem.
"Bacteria have a habit of being able to get round any treatments we develop."
A Department of Health spokesman said "a close watch" would be maintained on all emerging findings regarding the superbug.
The latest official figures show recent drops in the number of new MRSA infections seem to have stalled.
Cases in England rose by 0.6% between October and December 2007 to 1,087, the Health Protection Agency said last month.
It comes after a series of continuous drops in infections since April 2006.
Last September, Prime Minister Gordon Brown ordered all hospitals to deep clean, to tackle the spread of infections, such as MRSA.
But the Conservatives said the programme was a shambles as not all the money promised to cover the costs of cleaning had materialised.
Cleaning firms said ministers should instead have properly funded day-to-day cleaning.