Success story from the University of Nottingham

The work between the University of Nottingham and medical materials company Camstent Ltd has been shortlisted for the ‘Most Innovative Contribution to Business-University Collaboration’ category at this year’s Times Higher Education Awards.

Bacteria resistant materials discovered in 2012 by a team of scientists in the Schools of Pharmacy and Life Sciences at the University of Nottingham have been developed for medical use by the Cambridgeshire company Camstent and a specially coated urinary catheter has been approved for clinical trials in the UK and Europe earlier this year.

Medical device associated infections can lead to systemic infections and device failure, costing the NHS over £1bn a year. Many commonly used devices including urinary and central venous catheters are susceptible biofilms that are essentially bacterial ‘slime cities.’

The clinical trial of the new bacteria resistant materials will help to determine whether promising laboratory results translate into significantly reduced infection rates and lower costs for patients needing a catheter.

Morgan Alexander, Professor of Biomedical Surfaces, who led the team funded by a Wellcome Trust Translation Award that made the initial discovery said: “We do materials discovery, Camstent have done the product development. Between the point our team discovered this material and tested it on a little tube in the lab to Camstent developing a coated device there have been a host of important optimisation experiments. We needed to get the coating to the appropriate flexibility, get it to stick and then safety tested and manufactured ready for clinical trials.”

Dr Dave Hampton, Chief Technical Officer at Camstent said: “As well as rigorous safety tests the production process has to be tested to ensure it works and there are no faults in the manufacture and we have to ensure the devices remain sterile in the packaging. We are very confident that we have reached a stage where patients will benefit from using this new device as opposed to the traditional uncoated or silver impregnated ones and we are very excited to see the results of these trials and move onto the next stage of the process.”

Having licenced the materials for use in urology the team at Nottingham are now looking to use their materials on other medical devices. As well as catheters these include endotracheal tubes used to help unconscious patients breath and contact lenses. The coating could also be used for implants such as cochlear implants, prosthetic joints and dental products.

The winners of the THE Awards will be announced on 29 November at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London.

Published: 12 October 2018