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Last Updated: Friday, 5 January 2007, 14:20 GMT
Actress opens new superbug centre
Leslie Ash
Leslie Ash contracted MSSA after a stay in a London hospital
A new national centre dedicated to researching superbug infections has opened in Nottingham.

The Centre for Healthcare Associated Infections (CHIA) at the University of Nottingham, will bring together experts to research superbugs such as MRSA.

Actress Leslie Ash, who almost died when she contracted MSSA after a stay at a London hospital in 2004, opened the centre and has become its patron.

Experts estimate 5,000 people in the UK die from superbugs every year.

Figures from the National Audit Office (NAO) also estimate that about 10% of all surgery patients acquire a superbug infection and treating these patients costs the NHS an additional 1bn, with figures set to spiral.

Hospital will be the last place to be if you want to avoid picking up a dangerous infection
Professor Richard James, University of Nottingham

Scientists at the new centre said superbugs had become prevalent after widespread use of antibiotics, resulting in drug-resistant infections evolving.

Leslie Ash, 46, who welcomed the setting-up of the centre, said: "There seems to be new superbugs coming up all the time.

"They said I was lucky because I had MSSA which was sensitive to the antibiotic rather than MRSA which is resistant.

"It still paralysed me from the chest down and it's taken me all this time to be able to get up and walk around with a stick."

She added it had had a "devastating effect on my family and my life".

'New antibiotics'

Professor Richard James, the centre's new director, said: "Quite frankly, the impending crisis on the horizon can be called the 'post-antibiotic apocalypse'.

"The fact that disease-causing bacteria soon become resistant to any antibiotic has further reduced the interest of pharmaceutical companies in funding the research required to discover new antibiotics and bring them to the market.

"We are facing a future where there will be no antibiotics and hospital will be the last place to be if you want to avoid picking up a dangerous bacterial infection," he said.

The new centre will bring together nine schools at the University of Nottingham, covering a range of disciplines, and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.

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