A Point-of-care Imaging Solution for Early Detection of Urinary Tract Infections for MS Patients
We seek to introduce a point-of-care, early detection of Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients using imaging. Around 90% of MS patients (MS Society, UK) eventually require either intermittent or, in more severe cases, permanent catheterisation for urine discharge. This increases the UTI risks, which cause the most unplanned admissions among MS (Neurological Commission Support agency, 2014) and the second most among Parkinson patients (London Neurology Network, 2014). Currently, UTIs are detected by sample collection and bacteria culturing; the process takes 1-3 days and presents a major diagnostic bottleneck that delays treatment. Thus, cost-effective point-of-care diagnostic systems are urgently required to improve individual quality of life metrics and health economic benefits across the NHS.
UTIs are caused by the bacteria belonging to the e-coli family which are motile and deploy interface sensitive helical propulsion. We will exploit smart microscopy and image processing – interfaced with smartphones – for early UTI detection. First, quantitative flow imaging will be used to understand bacteria swimming and hydrodynamic interactions in sample collection pots and catheter bags.
Bacteria delocalisation at the interface between two aqueous phases (Hann et al., 2014, Soft Matter) will then be exploited to develop a smart collection pot, which will be fitted with inexpensive, miniature (magnification: 2000X, Cybulski et al. 2014, PLOS one) microscopes to image, record and develop image-processing programmes for the bacteria detection. The microscope recordings via smartphone can be communicated to a clinician and/or an image-analysis stations to facilitate prompt intervention. The smart sample pots will serve as a first UTI diagnostic step, to be improved further with additional microfluidic strategies. The team MS clinician will help to focus on patient needs to facilitate clinical translation.
The student should be interested in biomedical experiments. Prior experience with optics and/or fluid mechanics would be beneficial, but not required.
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