IMPRESS has awarded three Knowledge Exchange Awards since opening the scheme in March 2017.
In the School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience at Bristol University, research associate Jonathan Crook will make a number of visits to research labs in the UK and France who are working in the field of stretchable electronics where he will investigate the potential for applying their technology to bladder sensing. Stretchable electronic technology has much potential to improve the biocompatibility of implanted devices though it’s superior ability to flex and fit with soft tissue. An implanted bladder sensor would allow self-monitoring of bladder volume and could lead to a significant improvement in quality of life for people with impaired sensation such as spinal cord injury patients who currently have to self-catheterise 4-6 times a day to avoid urine retention, overflow incontinence, and risk of urinary tract infection. It could also assist management of the functional incontinence commonly associated with dementia by providing an early warning of the need to empty the bladder.
Crystal Growth in Catheters
In the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s University Belfast, a pharmaceutical materials scientist supervised by Dr Nicola Irwin will visit the world leading crystal engineering Rimer Group at the University of Houston. This work will make use of the highly specialised equipment and research techniques available in the Rimer Group labs to develop Dr Irwin’s promising preliminary findings into using pharmaceutical compounds to prevent catheter encrustation. Over 50% of all long-term catheterised patients experience recurrent episodes of urinary catheter blockages as a result of urine crystals attaching to the surface of the catheter. Left undetected these blockages significantly increase the risk of life threatening infections and death.
Faecal Pellet Sensor
Dr Bhavik Patel, Reader in Clinical and Bioanalytical Chemistry at Brighton University will visit the department of Neurological Sciences at the University of Vermont to evaluate his faecal pellet sensor device in inflammatory bowel disorder (IBD) animal models. His aim is to understand how serotonin signalling and rectum motility are altered in IBD. This partnership will provide the means to establish a new collaboration to help understand of the role of inflammation on serotonin signalling and function within the bowel. This will be significant because as many as three in four people with IBD have had some experience of incontinence. Often, this is linked to flare-ups, but for about one in ten, incontinence occurs whether their disease is active or not. Therefore, we will gain some insight into the relationship between inflammatory disorders and incontinence.