Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Antimicrobial Catheter

Catheter with inbuilt slow-release antimicrobial drug reduces risk of infection

08 April 2019

Antimicrobial Catheter

For patients undergoing long-term treatments and monitoring, such as those receiving chemotherapy, dialysis, or extensive antibiotic regimens, the insertion of a catheter into a blood vessel enables doctors to quickly and easily deliver drugs, collect blood samples and so forth without repeatedly having to stick the person with needles. But, intravascular catheters can occasionally lead to blood infections, which, in up to 25 percent of cases, are fatal. In an effort to eliminate this risk, researchers have developed a novel polyurethane coating for catheters that’s designed to slowly release an antimicrobial drug called auranofin. In tests, the coated catheters (right) were better at preventing growth of bacteria (purple and green) compared with normal catheters (left) when kept under the same conditions. While further tests for safety and efficacy are needed, the results offer hope that these essential and widely-used clinical tools can be applied with less fear of infection.

Written by Ruth Williams

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