'Smart' catheter could cut urinary tract infections in long-term care facilities: report

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Michigan researchers are developing a “smart” catheter that releases a bacteria-killing nitric oxide substance at the start of an infection, according to a report presented at a conference Thursday.

Scientists from the University of Michigan are developing an “electromodulated smart catheter” in response to high rates of catheter-associated infections in long-term care facilities and hospitals, they said.

Existing “unintelligent” catheters release antibiotics continuously, according to researcher Dipankar Koley, Ph.D. With these, the antibiotic substances can be depleted quickly and suffer lessened effects. The new smart catheters, however, deliver the medication only when infection is first detected.

The smart catheter works by chemically sensing changes in the pH levels around the catheter. Certain changes signal the critical point when bacteria have formed a sticky film on the catheter, triggering the delivery of nitric oxide.

Koley presented his team's research at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia.