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The University of Southampton
Institute for Life Sciences

New development contract allows research into innovative catheter cleaning product

Published: 17 March 2016
Intermittent Catheters
Image credit: Continence Product Advisor

Institute for Life Sciences (IfLS) researchers have been awarded a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) healthcare development contract to investigate an innovative cleaning product for intermittent catheters.

The scientists, from Biological Sciences and Health Sciences at the University of Southampton, will be working with JVS Products, in Chandler’s Ford, who have developed the novel biocide that is shown to have a strong effect against a range of fungal, bacterial and viral pathogens.

Together they will explore whether the new product could be used to effectively clean catheters that have so far only been labelled as single-use. This has the potential to revolutionise the use of intermittent catheters, giving users greater choice.

The project is one of just 11 to have recently benefited from just under £100,000 of SBRI Healthcare funding. SBRI Healthcare is an NHS England initiative, championed by the Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs), who aim to promote UK economic growth whilst addressing unmet health needs and enhancing the take up of known best practice.

Part of Innovation Health and Wealth, the SBRI Healthcare programme sets industry the challenge in a series of health related competitions which result in fully funded development contracts between the awarded company and the NHS. Unlike many research and development projects which offer grant or match funding, SBRI contracts are 100 per cent funded and the company retains the IP.

Their recent round of funding was awarded to projects that were seen to have a potential value to the health service and improve outcomes delivered to patients in the areas of falls, incontinence and functional ability. The money will support a six-month development phase that allows the project team to demonstrate the technical feasibility of their proposed concept.

Dr Sandra Wilks, a Senior Research Fellow in Microbiology, will lead the academic side of the project at Southampton. She will gain additional microbiological input from Chair in Environmental Healthcare Professor Bill Keevil, and will receive expertise in clinical applications and the use of catheters in the community from Associate Professor in Health Sciences Dr Jacqui Prieto, and Professor of Continence Technology Mandy Fader.

Sandra said: “This funding will allow us to carry out an in-depth study into whether this biocidal product can be used as a simple and effective one-step cleaning method for intermittent catheters that have up until now been labelled for single-use. We will carry out laboratory testing on a range of different uropathogens and investigate efficacy, optimal concentration and exposure time, as well as different reprocessing protocols.”

There are approximately 50,000 intermittent catheter users in the UK which costs the NHS around £90m a year. This potential one-step product could create additional benefits to frail and elderly catheter users by enabling catheters to be re-used and providing substantial savings to the NHS.

Malcolm Edwards, Technical Director of JVS Products, said: “Having worked very closely with Professor Bill Keevil, Dr Sandra Wilks, Dr Jacqui Prieto and the team at Southampton University for the past five years developing our anti microbial range, JVS Products are very excited to have been awarded this development contract and look forward to a successful outcome from this ongoing collaboration.”

Sandra said: “We are delighted to have been successful in obtaining this funding and are looking forward to working with JVS Products. The level of analysis and investigation we can carry out will give added value to the assessment of the efficacy of their product.

“It is really important that academia collaborates with industry to ensure we conduct research that is commercially and clinically useful but at the same time offering companies access to our specialised facilities and expertise.

“We are often trying to find answers to quite complex problems and it is only by taking this collaborative, practical approach that we stand more chance of being successful.

“We wouldn’t have been able to put this proposal together without IfLS Research Stimulus funding that allowed us to gather the preliminary data on which the proposal was developed.”

The IfLS was created four years ago to act as a catalyst and facilitate interdisciplinary working between researchers across the University, as well as engaging with local industry. The ethos of interdisciplinarity lies at the heart of the IfLS and is embodied in its four grand challenges - New Pathways to Health, Life Technologies, Global Change: Systems and Cycles, and Human Nexus.

Disclaimer

This work was commissioned and funded by the SBRI Healthcare programme. SBRI Healthcare is an NHS England initiative, championed by the Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs). The views expressed in the publication are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the SBRI Healthcare programme or its stakeholders.

www.sbrihealthcare.co.uk

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