We recruit INTERVAL, COMPARE and STRIDES participants to investigate an important public health problem – Why some people carry the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus in their nose while other people never do?

About the Carriage Study

The aim of the CARRIAGE study is to investigate why some people carry the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) in their nose while others never do. S. aureus is a common bacterium with about one person in every three carrying it in their nose, or elsewhere on the skin.

For most people, carriage of S. aureus is harmless. However, a small number of people are susceptible to S. aureus infections due to a weakened immune system and, in some cases, these infections may be serious and resistant to antibiotic treatment.

Understanding why only some people are carriers while others aren’t will help design new ways to prevent and treat such infections.

Why is this research important?

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a very common skin bacteria and seems to particularly like living just inside the nose. About 20 per cent of people carry S. aureus in their nose all the time, another 30 per cent carry it from time to time and another 50 per cent of people never carry it.

Currently we can’t explain why, but variation in human genes, lifestyle, and the presence of other bacteria in the nose may all have a role to play.

For most people, carriage of S. aureus is harmless. However, a small number of people are susceptible to S. aureus infections due to a weakened immune system and, in some cases, these infections may be serious and resistant to antibiotic treatment.

We are conducting a large study to understand what determines the carriage of S. aureus in humans. Understanding why only some people are carriers while others aren’t will help design new ways to prevent and treat infections caused by S. aureus.

Who’s involved

The CARRIAGE study has been set up by the University of Cambridge.

The lead scientists of the project are:

  • Dr Ewan Harrison – Wellcome Sanger Institute
  • Professor John Danesh – Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge
  • Professor Sharon Peacock – Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge

Other scientific investigators who are part of the CARRIAGE study team include:

  • Professor Julian Parkhill – Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge
  • Dr Carl Anderson – Wellcome Sanger Institue
  • Dr Joan Geoghegan – Trinity College Dublin

The CARRIAGE study has been funded by Wellcome, Health Data Research UK, and the Isaac Newton Trust.

Sanger people

Photo of Katie Bellis

Katie Bellis

Staff Scientist

Photo of Dr Carl Anderson

Dr Carl Anderson

Head of Human Genetics and Senior Group Leader

Photo of Dr Ewan Harrison

Dr Ewan Harrison

Head of the Respiratory Virus and Microbiome Initiative (Group leader)

External Contributors

Photo of Professor Sharon Peacock

Professor Sharon Peacock

Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge

Photo of Professor Julian Parkhill

Professor Julian Parkhill

Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge

Photo of Dr Joan Geoghegan

Dr Joan Geoghegan

University of Birmingham

Beth Blane

University of Cambridge - Department of Medicine