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New study reveals that life sciences is the biggest employer in the North West

29.02.2008
A new report showing the North West of England's top 10 employment growth sectors has named the life sciences as the region's biggest jobs provider.

The Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) study, called The Changing Professions in the North West of England, reveals the life sciences industries employed 455,600 staff last year accounting for 13.4% of jobs in the region.

The report also details how MMU is helping the industry meet the challenges of this growth and making a direct contribution to the regional economy through its life sciences provision. 74% of the 5,000 science and engineering students trained by MMU every year stay to work and live in the North West. Alongside these students entering the workforce, 80% of the MMU's trained health professionals, including nurses, health visitors and dental technicians, go on to enter this sector at all levels – in hospitals and community health – in the region.

Case studies in the report's life sciences chapter of include cutting-edge technology firm Micap has enlisting MMU's knowledge of essential oils to tackle deadly hospital infections such as MRSA. The superbug is known for its resistance to traditional antibiotics so University microbiologists have teamed up with the Wigan-based firm to explore another way to kill the deadly organisms – by harnessing the natural antibacterial properties of plant-derived essential oils and incorporating them into healthcare products.

Dr Valerie Edwards-Jones, a reader in medical microbiology in MMU's Research Institute for Health and Social Change, is working with Micap to build these oils into devices such as urinary catheters, wound dressings and creams. The partners have discovered that encapsulating the volatile oil particles in dead yeast cells – creating a shell – controls the speed of their release which makes them safer to use. “During clinical tests, we have shown that these oils can defeat MRSA. A trial using essential oil-infused creams reduced the colonization of bacteria on patients’ skin, a major source of infection, by ten-thousand fold,” Dr Edwards-Jones said.

However, despite this, with only a 13.2% share of top 10 sector growth in the past ten years, life sciences has now fallen behind financial and professional services and Education as the third fastest growing.

The full report can be accessed by clicking on Changing Professions in the North West at http://www.mmu.ac.uk/news/publications/.

Phil Smith | alfa
Further information:
http://www.mmu.ac.uk

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