Dr David Stickler, a bacteriologist in the Cardiff School of Biosciences believes he and his team have developed a way of overcoming a common infectious complication, which plagues many patients undergoing long-term bladder catheterisation.
"It is estimated that some 400 million urinary catheters are used world-wide each year, and everyone who is catheterised for a month or more can expect to suffer an infection," explained Dr Stickler.
"About half of these patients will acquire infections with a bacterium called Proteus mirabilis. This organism colonizes the catheter and induces the formation of crystalline material from urine, which builds up on the catheter and eventually blocks the flow of urine from the bladder" he added. "This can lead to the painful distention of the bladder and if the problem is not noticed and dealt with, the retention of urine can result in episodes of kidney or bloodstream infections which can seriously jeopardize the health and well-being of the patient"
"The misery and cost that this problem has caused over the years is incalculable," said Dr Stickler. "The catheter has hardly changed since it was invented in 1937, and infection is inevitable among long-term users.
"Antibiotics are generally ineffective against these infections and currently the only solution is to change the catheter regularly, but the infection always returns."
Having examined this problem since 1970, Dr Stickler and his colleagues believe they have found the answer in the chemical triclosan commonly found in toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorants and anti-bacterial cleaners such as Microban.