Faculty of Life Sciences researcher Dr Curtis Dobson has been awarded the ‘Biomedical Project of the Year’ at the 11th Annualdobson Bionow Awards. Dr Dobson and his team received the award for their ‘MicroSensor’ initiative. This initiative consists of the development of a mini sensor which detects when disposable medical products, such as wound dressings, intravenous lines, catheters and contact lenses, have become colonised by microbes.

Traditionally, scientists have tried to find better ways to kill the invading microbes, which can lead to severe illness or even death in patients, but these approaches have not been completely successful, and may never eradicate the problem. Dr Dobson’s team, comprised of material scientists, engineers, clinical researchers, and biologists, have developed technology that allows a miniature biochemical sensor to be embedded close to a device’s surface. The sensor dramatically changes colour when the surface becomes infected, quickly alerting healthcare professionals or the wearer to the presence of harmful bugs.

The multidisciplinary team, led by Dr Dobson, have taken this principle, demonstrated its success in the laboratory, and incorporated it into real medical products that can be tested by major companies in the sector. The team consists of material scientists and engineers Dr Jane Bramhill, Professors Nicola Tirelli, Nick Goddard and Peter Fielden (now at Lancaster University), clinical researchers Dr Frank Bowling, Dr Carole Maldonado-Codina and Philip Morgan and microbiologist Dr Andrew McBain.

Dr Dobson, whose project received £126,000 from the University’s intellectual property company UMI3 as well as further funding of £225,000 from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), said:

“It was fantastic to receive such a prestigious award so early in the development of this technology. Our goal is to aggressively target medical device infection using this new approach. The boost the Bionow award provides should significantly shorten the time it takes us to achieve this, allowing us to protect patients from infection sooner.”

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