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Cymraeg

Early warning system to prevent common infection developed by Cardiff scientists

31 May 2011

A unique monitoring system offering healthcare providers an early warning system to accurately predict and aid management of one of the most common and painful infections has been developed by Cardiff University scientists.

Thousands of patients every day in the UK, many of them old, frail and vulnerable need to have a urinary catheter fitted due to incontinence or immobility.

Catheters in over half of those patients who are long term catheterised become blocked which can lead to extreme pain and other serious complications including kidney and blood infections.

Cardiff scientists have developed a sensor that fits to a catheter that changes from yellow to blue/black before the catheter becomes blocked – allowing doctors to take action and treat infection before complications arise.

Dr David Williams from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine, who led the development said: "The implication to a patient’s health if the catheter gets blocked is serious. Not only does it lead to extreme discomfort, but can cause other clinical problems which may prove fatal.

"There is currently no effective method to manage this problem. Catheter blockages remain uncontrollable, unpredictable and dealt with – more often than not - when it’s too late. This is extremely painful for the patient, frustrating for the doctors and a massive drain on finances.

"By developing the first early warning system for urinary catheter blockage we hope we can offer doctors and nursing staff an accurate way of predicating and preventing encrustation before it is too late."

The new sensor comes as a result of a major collaboration between Cardiff and Bristol Universities. The Severnside Alliance for Translational Research (SARTRE) was established in 2009 to combine and accelerate translational research. Supported by the Welsh Office of Research and Development and by the Medical Research Council (MRC) to create a leading medical translational research hub in the SouthWest and South Wales.

As part of the 2010 MRC Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme Devolved Portfolio (DPFS) researchers from Cardiff University have developed advanced features of the new sensor technology which is now ready to be trialled by patients.

The sensor technology was initially developed by Cardiff University’s Dr David Stickler and Professor Mark Waters. Dr David Williams and Dr Sladjana Malic have since continued the development through the Medical Research Council’s DPFS project, both enhancing the sensor technology and validating the ability and consistency of the device in early detection of catheter blockage.

The collaboration also involved the medical polymer laboratory in Cardiff School of Engineering, developed in collaboration with Principality Medical which provides a unique facility for manufacturing prototype sensors for clinical trials.

MBI Wales Limited, who have considerable experience in manufacturing novel, application based materials for the medical industry, have supported the project throughout and have an option to the license for the manufacture and distribution of the sensor.

The collaboration with Bristol is continuing and Bristol Urological Institute will be running the first clinical trials in Spring 2011 under the direction of Adele Long at Southmead Hospital.

Dr Williams added: "As we enter the next important part of clinical trials – we get ever closer to making this project a reality for patients. The sensor provides a simple and useful solution that is cost effective and can be attached to any line, making it for the first time a real opportunity to crack this longstanding problem for patients."

-Ends-

Notes:

Further information or to interview Dr Williams, please contact:

Dr Corinne Squire
SARTRE – Severnside Alliance for Translational Research
Cardiff University
Tel: 029 20 744190
Mobile: 07854 103938

Further information on SARTRE – Severnside Alliance for Translational Research is available at: www.sartre.ac.uk/

Cardiff University
Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, Professor Sir Martin Evans.

Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning.
www.cardiff.ac.uk