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Looking further to detect infection

100 million urinary catheters are used annually across the globe and up to half of patients using them will have an associated infection. This can lead to kidney failure, septicaemia and death and costs the NHS an estimated £120 million per year.

One of our research teams has developed an early warning system for detecting infections that could help.

A glowing chemical coating developed by the team which can be applied to a catheter tip releases a coloured dye when urine becomes alkaline due to a bacterial infection. It builds on the same technology used by the same team to produce colour changing bandages that give an early warning sign of infection in burns patients.

Dr Toby Jenkins from our Department of Chemistry is leading the research:

“Catheter infections are such a common problem that currently anyone using a catheter for more than seven days is given a course of antibiotics to prevent infection. The coating we’ve developed will give a 12 hour warning before an infection causes a blockage, meaning that only patients with an infection need to be treated with antibiotics. This system could therefore not only save lives but also reduce the threat of antibiotic resistance.”

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