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The University of Southampton
Global Network for Anti-Microbial Resistance and Infection Prevention

Southampton collaborates with industry to demonstrate benefits of Surgihoney in treating chronic rhinosinusitis

Published: 11 January 2016
University of Southampton team
University of Southampton team

With millions predicted to die because of global drug resistance, the search is on for new solutions. Southampton researchers are working to demonstrate the benefits of a British medical innovation that could revolutionise treatment and help prevent a scenario where routine procedures become life-threatening.

Surgihoney, an engineered medical honey, is a potent antimicrobial agent with antibiofilm activity. It can destroy Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, including multi-drug resistant strains, such as E.coli, MRSA and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Matoke Holdings Ltd, the British bio-tech company which developed Surgihoney, is collaborating with leading scientists and surgeons at the University, where we have an internationally-renowned centre in respiratory biomedical research.

Chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) is a common condition that affects 15 per cent of the UK population and costs the NHS about £100m a year. Patients usually have recurrent bacterial infections. Conventional antibiotics are rarely effective in eradicating bacterial biofilms in CRS patients, and many require multiple sinus operations during their lifetimes. New treatments are needed to prevent disease recurrence, and to reduce reliance on antibiotics and surgery.

In collaboration with Matoke Holdings Ltd, the Upper Airway Research Group at the University of Southampton, has been conducting some lab-based preclinical studies to demonstrate the effectiveness of Surgihoney in killing Staph. aureus biofilms implicated in patients with difficult to treat or chronic rhinosinusitis.

Mr Rami Salib, Associate Professor of Rhinology and Consultant Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeon, who heads the Upper Airway Research Group, said: “Surgihoney sparked my interest because I felt I could take this concept and apply it to my field for treating chronic nose and sinus infections. The problem of chronic sinus infections not only impacts significantly on patients’ quality of life but these infections tend to be resistant to antibiotics and patients often end up needing multiple operations and a lot of antibiotics during their lifetimes.

“Chronic rhinosinusitis is a chronic and challenging condition, not just in the UK but worldwide. There is an emphasis on trying to develop new strategies and new therapeutic options to reduce reliance on antibiotics and the need for operations which are quite expensive. This is particularly pertinent in an over-stretched and under-funded NHS.”

The current study involves laboratory research to test the ability of Surgihoney to kill bacterial biofilms. The aim is to extend this work into the clinical arena by conducting a small scale clinical trial to investigate its efficacy in treating chronic rhinosinusitis patients following endoscopic sinus surgery.

Rami, who is based in the University’s Faculty of Medicine, said: “What we want to do is to take our research from the benchside to the bedside. In other words, we would like to translate the science we are producing into direct clinical benefit for patients with chronic rhinosinusitis by developing novel biofilm-targeted therapies which reduce our reliance on antibiotics and the risk of antimicrobial resistance which is of epidemic proportions and a worldwide issue and challenge for us all.”

As part of the research team, Ali Salamat, a Rhinology Clinical Research Fellow and ENT Specialist Registrar, has won a prestigious one-year research fellowship from the Royal College of Surgeons of England to conduct basic scientific research on Surgihoney’s antimicrobial profile.

Mr Salamat described the project as “very exciting.” He said once Surgihoney has been scientifically proven to effectively target bacterial biofilm in the laboratory, the team will work with Matoke Holdings Ltd to investigate new treatments.

Ian Staples, founder and chief executive of Matoke Holdings Ltd, said: “I am incredibly proud to be part of the team now working with some of the top clinical innovators in Britain to take this technology into a wide arena of infection control.”

Mr Staples said Surgihoney is similar to penicillin in that they both harnessed nature’s defence mechanisms to beat bacteria.

The Southampton Upper Airway Research Group consists of Mr Rami Salib, Associate Professor of Rhinology, Consultant ENT Surgeon and head of group; Dr Sylvia Pender, Associate Professor of Mucosal Immunology; Dr Ray Allan, Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility Post-Doctoral Fellow; Mr Ali Salamat Royal College of Surgeons of England Research Fellow and ENT Specialist Registrar; Mr Tim Biggs, NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow and ENT Specialist Registrar, and Ms Rebecca Holding, Research Technician.

The project has been awarded multiple grants, including the British Medical Association through the Helen H Lawson grant, NIHR Southampton Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit pump-priming grant, the Higher Education Innovation and Enterprise Fund, Rosetrees Trust Research Grants and Otorhinolaryngological Research Society grant.


Notes for editors

1 Honey has been used for millennia to clean wounds and burns. Honey possesses natural antibacterial properties, including its ability to deliver reactive oxygen species (ROS) hydrogen peroxide. Natural honeys vary in their antimicrobial strength depending on the floral source. This lack of standardisation has been a major stumbling block to the use of honey in modern medicine. Perhaps the most famous honey is Manuka but it depends for its potency on pollen from a particular shrub in New Zealand, limiting supply.

2. What’s new and different about Surgihoney:-

* Surgihoney has been engineered to control and manage the natural antimicrobial activity of honey.

* The preparation process allows it to be produced in different measurable and reproducible strengths.

*Its main mode of action involves the sustained delivery of low levels of hydrogen peroxide as reactive oxygen.

* In vitro testing shows Surgihoney is more potent than other honeys tested, including manuka and medical grade Medihoney. It has greater antimicrobial activity and more rapid kill times.

*Surgihoney can be produced from pure honey from a variety of floral sources, so supply is worldwide. It doesn’t contain Manuka which has a different mode of action.

Gamma irradiation kills any potentially harmful spores without loss of its antimicrobial qualities.

For further information about Surgihoney and published research to date see

For Surgihoney press media enquiries please contact Rachel Masker tel: 01962 760014 M: 07876 026223

Photo: University of Southampton team

Front row L to R: Dr Sylvia Pender, Associate Professor of Mucosal Immunology; Mr Rami Salib, Associate Professor of Rhinology, Consultant ENT Surgeon and head of group; Mr Ali Salamat, Royal College of Surgeons England Research Fellow

Back row L to R: Rebecca Holding, Research Technician, Dr Ray Allan, Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility Post-doctoral Research Fellow and ENT Specialist Registrar, Mr Tim Biggs, NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow and ENT Specialist Registrar and Mark Adams, rhinology research fellow.


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