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Metagenomics based diagnostics for urinary tract infection control

The University of Technology Sydney

  • Spinal Cord Injury Research Grant
Date Funded:
  • 30 June, 2020
Chief Investigator/s:
  • Associate Professor Diane McDougald

Project summary

Diagnostic tool to predict and manage urinary tract infections.

What is the issue for NSW?

Spinal cord injury patients are at high risk of catheter associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI), including infection by multi-drug resistant organisms. This can spread throughout hospitals causing significant cost to hospitals.

Researchers can determine when a patient may be under threat of infection by monitoring the group of bacteria that colonise their catheter, the microbiome. Changes in that microbiome, that are shown to correlate with changes in health status, can be observed well before the patients present as sick.

What does the research aim to do and how?

This project aims to develop a diagnostic tool to predict UTIs by monitoring the microbiome as proxy. The diagnostic would use the patients’ catheter for sampling during routine changes, hence taking advantage of a material that would otherwise be discarded.

By having an early warning system, physicians can draw on a range of alternative management approaches, such as more frequent catheter changes or more expensive single use catheters. These approaches will reduce the number of UTI episodes for patients improving quality of life, reducing mortality and reducing hospital costs associated with UTIs and drug resistant UTIs.