Grant awarded for development of sterilising device for venous access ports

Taslima Begum
Taslima Begum, senior lecturer in Computing at Cardiff Met and researcher in User-centred Design at PDR

Cardiff Metropolitan University has announced it has secured a grant to “support an interdisciplinary collaboration of an innovative sterilising device for venous access ports (VAPs).”

Existing VAPs tend to encourage the build-up of bacteria and fungus in the port, leading to infections, pain, discomfort, surgical removal of the device, and in some cases the death of the patient. Antibiotic treatment is not effective in all cases of VAP infection.
“The project team’s aim is to develop a sterilising device to reduce infections in venous access ports for patients who require long term and repeated intravenous treatment,” the University says in a press release.

VAPs are implanted under the skin to deliver a regular supply of drugs directly into the bloodstream without the need for repeated injections and the risk of compromising veins. Patients with cystic fibrosis are regularly treated with the ports.

“We are pleased to have been awarded funding for the Venous Access Port Project. The project considers an issue that many people do not know about but can affect many lives,” says Jamie Duckers, principal investigator for the project and consultant in Cystic Fibrosis and General Medicine at the Cystic Fibrosis Centre. “The outcome of the project could be extremely beneficial to both VAPs users and to the medical industry.”

The research will be a multicentre collaboration between Cardiff and Vale University Health Boards, Cardiff Metropolitan University’s PDR (the Cardiff Met-based International Centre for Design & Research), University of South Wales’ Faculties of Business and Society and Computing, Engineering and Science, Cardiff University’s School of Dentistry, and Public Health Wales’ Department of Microbiology. The collaborating institutions will work closely with the All Wales Adult Cystic Fibrosis Centre to facilitate best outcomes for the clinicians and the patients who depend on VAPs.

Senior research fellow Mark Bowkett at the University of South Wales says: “I am delighted to be part of this talented multidisciplinary collaboration, which brings a fresh approach to issues in the medical field. It is exciting to believe these developments could significantly enhance patient’s wellbeing and potentially lead to other novel solutions in the future.”

The grant will be used by the project team to develop an “innovative prototype device” that can prevent infection in VAPs or attack them as they develop. The project is not only predicted to improve outcomes for patients who require VAPs, but to decrease the resources required from the healthcare system in treating these preventable infections.

“I am thrilled that we have been awarded the research grant. Our aim is to utilise user-centred and co-design methods to develop a novel solution that will help cut down infections in individuals who use venous access ports and as a result, improve the patient’s quality-of-life through better treatment outcomes,” says Taslima Begum, senior lecturer in Computing at Cardiff Met and researcher in User-centred Design at PDR.
“It is a fantastic project and I am looking forward to collaborating with some exceptional individuals, organisations and institutions on it,” she adds.

Begum has also secured funding for projects looking at the design of smart surgical tools to reduce the failure rate of dental implants and for effectively communicating climate change complexities through computer games.

Addressing the recent grant successes, professor Scott Fleming, director of Research and Graduate Studies at Cardiff Met, says “It is very rewarding to see Cardiff Met succeed in securing prestigious research grants. These successes reinforce the excellence of the research undertaken here and we look forward to seeing the projects develop and having ‘real world’ impact in the future.”


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