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Funding for research into polymicrobal infections associated with intra-vascular catheters

15 February 2018

Dr Nihal Bandara (Lecturer in Oral Microbiology) has successfully secured two years of funding from Above and Beyond to further his research in the Dental School’s Oral Microbiology group. 

Nihal will lead the project, with Dr Jonathan Tyrrell-Price (Consultant Gastroenterologist, University Hospitals Bristol) Dr Rajeka Lazarus (Consultant in Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, University Hospitals Bristol) and Dr Lindsay Dutton (Research Technician in Oral Microbiology) as co-investigators.

The project, entitled “Probing potential biomarkers in polymicrobial biofilm infections associated with long term intra-vascular catheters in patients requiring total parenteral nutrition” will investigate the molecules uniquely released from pathogenic microbial biofilms formed on central venous catheters (CVC).

CVCs are a type of intra-venous catheters commonly used to provide essential nutrients to those who are unable to absorb food through their gut (e.g. patients with cancer or recovering after surgery).  

Microbes inevitably form robust biofilms on each and every CVC and lead to local as well as serious haematological infections. CVC infections are extremely challenging to manage and there are no current practices to detect early stage CVC biofilms, or to differentiate whether the source of bacteraemia is actually the biofilms formed on the CVC. If the haematological infection does not originate from the CVC, patients may be given unnecessary antibiotics and/or the CVC removed.

Therefore this study aims to: 1) Identify and characterize the biofilm-specific secretory molecules that are potentially associated with CVC infections, and 2) Determine the effect of antibiotics on CVC biofilm development and evaluate the changes, if any, on the secretory molecules to establish whether they may hold prognostic value in determining a successful treatment outcome.

This will allow clinicians to treat patients quickly and accurately to prevent the harmful effects of the infection, unnecessary catheter replacement and antibiotics, patient discomfort, and long hospital stays.

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