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Biomaterial coatings with lubricious, slippery coatings for improved urinary catheter performance

   School of Pharmacy

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  Dr Matthew Wylie  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Intermittent urinary catheterisation is commonly used to address chronic urinary retention in patients suffering from conditions such as spinal cord injury, stroke, and multiple sclerosis. The majority of intermittent catheters are designed as single-use lubricated devices and as such can be associated with a high cumulative cost – the UK's National Health Service (NHS) spends >£88 million annually on intermittent catheters. However, in many countries outside of the UK, such as USA as many as 83% of patients reuse a single intermittent catheter up to 20 times before disposal, mainly due to the lack of access to affordable healthcare, social aspects, or environmental reasons.

Reuse of intermittent catheters can increase the risk of urethral trauma as hydrated catheter coatings quickly dry out leaving 'tacky' poorly lubricated polymeric surfaces which cause friction across urethral epithelium during repeated insertion and withdrawal leading to patient discomfort, tissue damage and scarring with chronic use. Additionally, the repeated, non-sterile use of these catheters may increase a user's risk of developing a catheter-associated urinary tract infection. As such there is a need for enhanced coatings for intermittent catheters to address these issues and provide a safer reusable intermittent catheter design.

This project will develop methods to improve the surface lubricity of intermittent catheters using technologies based on ionic liquid-incorporated coatings. Specifically, the project aims to:

•           Synthesis and characterise novel ionic liquids with lubricating and/or antimicrobial properties

•           Incorporation of the ionic liquids to form intermittent catheter coatings

•           Assessment of the coatings to produce highly lubricious coatings and their ability to resist bacterial biofilm development

This project is based on recent findings from our lab that has shown the ability to produce superhydrophilic surfaces using ionic liquids that also shown enhanced resistance against clinically relevant bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This project will provide extensive experience in ionic liquid chemistry, materials science, and microbiology.

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