Researchers Creating New Ways to Fight Catheter Infections

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COLLEGE PARK, Md.— Researchers at the University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering, backed by funding from the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation, are developing tools to combat catheter-based and other infections without provoking bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

"Finding new ways to treat infections is a key area in which engineers can assist physicians," said William Bentley, Robert E. Fischell Distinguished Professor and chair of the Clark School's Fischell Department of Bioengineering. "We anticipate that our Deutsch Foundation-funded infection research will one day give physicians new drugs, new drug development systems and new in vivo bacteria sensors and treatment systems that will help improve life for millions of people."   

Microfluidic channels, pictured here, serve as testbeds for growing and studying bacterial communities called biofilms. (CREDIT: Photo (C) Mike Morgan, 2011Catheter infections are a major concern for intensive care unit (ICU) patients suffering from massive trauma, septic shock from pneumonia or urinary tract infection, or complications of cancer therapy, according to Jeffrey D. Hasday, MD, professor of Medicine and Head of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Maryland Medical School in Baltimore.

Such a patient may require not only a plastic tube in his airway to assist with breathing, but also a plastic catheter in his bladder to remove urine, in an artery to monitor blood pressure, in a large vein to administer life-sustaining medications, and sometimes another for hemodialysis.

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