study infection picture

Novel medical device coatings to prevent infection

The Challenge

A major source of hospital acquired infections is from urinary catheters, accounting for about 40% of the total, with a 3% per day incidence of infections. Each case costs days of extra hospitalisation and thousands of pounds in treatment costs, along with the potential for antibiotic resistance to develop. Infections occur because of the growth of bacterial biofilms (thin layers of microorganisms), which aggregate on the exposed surface of the catheter. The biofilms irritate the surrounding tissue and release toxins that additionally cause inflammation and infection. Coatings that could help prevent or reduce the incidence of catheter related infections, and infections on other implantable medical devices, would lead to significant improvements in clinical outcomes and substantial cost savings to healthcare providers.

The Collaboration

The University chemists understand how to manipulate complex chemical structures, creating unique materials that exceeded our customer needs and regulatory test requirements. This has been an exceptionally productive partnership.

Dave Hampton, Chief Executive Officer, CamStent Ltd.

CamStent Ltd is an emerging medical materials company based in Cambridge, which was set up with funding from the Technology Strategy Board and Angel Investors. The company creates inert coatings for medical devices that are able to resist attachment by biological contaminants (e.g. blood and protein) including microorganisms. CamStent’s unique surface coatings can inhibit biofilm formation, potentially preventing patients from developing infections and protecting them against tissue damage caused by these organisms.

Profs Williams and Stirling from The University of Sheffield have been developing coatings that are able to modify the physical properties of surfaces, making them able to repel water, blood, protein, or fats, of which CamStent’s applications are a special niche.

CamStent, Profs Williams, Stirling and Dr Barlow, also from The University of Sheffield, worked together on a collaborative R&D project to combine their knowledge of surface coatings to create a material that could be used on catheters to prevent patient bacterial colonisation.

The Result

The collaborative R&D project is well on its way to showing that a novel modified surface coating could be used on catheters to reduce bacterial colonisation. The coating is non-toxic and has shown to be antimicrobial in laboratory tests. The coating offers unique advantages over current treatments, including, a smooth surface likely to minimise patient discomfort and chronic irritation, and a reduction in the excessive application of antibiotics, which can stimulate the development of unwanted drug-resistant organisms. This solution is also very cost effective as it is applied as a supplemental step during the catheter manufacturing process.

CamStent is now rapidly advancing development of its coating within a structured development process towards hospital clinical trials and global market introduction. They are also developing further coatings and surface treatments for commercialised medical devices as a result of the collaboration with The University of Sheffield.

For more information about the Department of Chemistry or Camstent Ltd please see and

This project was funded by CamStent Ltd.