Novel antimicrobial smart treatments to detect and destroy bacteria, which can be combined to form smart bandages and surfaces

Lead Research Organisation: Durham University
Department Name: Biosciences


Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.


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Description This Pathfinder award funded IP Pragmatics (IPP) to provide a comprehensive market assessment of our flexible pseudocapacitor arrays (PCAs) that can be combined with bandages and surfaces to detect and destroy bacterial biofilms in wounds and implants. A copy of the full 146-page report is available upon request. The PCA electronic device can also be exploited in other applications such as clinical sensing, continuous monitoring of bacterial biofilms in skincare products or even functional antimicrobial surfaces. With the increasing use of advanced wound dressings worldwide, the total market for advanced wound management has been estimated at greater than USD 9 billion, with the antimicrobial wound dressing segment alone valued at over USD 1 billion. The unique properties of the technology developed at Durham address the current market need for more effective approaches to treatment of chronic wounds, focusing on destruction of bacterial biofilms in infected wounds. IPP engaged in discussions with representatives from various companies and received very positive feedback regarding the invention. Seven companies expressed interest in having further discussions with the Durham University team to provide general advice to the academic team and/or to discuss potential partnerships (Radical Materials, CPI, Allvivo, S&N, Medtrace, Coloplast, Acelity). The individuals interviewed by IPP offered to provide additional feedback on the technology, product development and potential commercial pathway including overcoming regulatory hurdles. The outcomes of IPP's primary and secondary research suggest that there is a clear market need for improved methods for management of infections in hard-to-heal wounds, and that this new technology can play an important role in meeting this need. The project will likely lead to an impact case study (ICS) for REF (beyond 2021) and will build on ICSs from Chemistry in graphene (conducting carbon electrodes) and platforms for new therapeutic technologies.
Exploitation Route We have secured additional funding to take the prototype development forward via Northern Accelerator (NA) proof-of-concept funds and an MRC Confidence in Concept award. Based on the findings of these studies we plan to apply for BBSRC Follow-on Fund (FoF) or the MRC DPFS scheme to accelerate the technology towards pre-clinical and clinical trials. Commercially, we will apply to the Northern Accelerator (NA) scheme to tender for an executive to build the business proposition. Through delivery of that tender, venture capital funding will be identified to start a spinout company. There is a clear interest from industry players, and we believe a FoF-supported development plan would add considerable value to the technology by demonstrating some of the properties described above required by industry players. Options for the commercial exploitation of this technology through spin-outs and licensing to potential industrial partners are also being investigated.

Our work has been publicised via the innovation portal In-Part ( and was the most viewed technology for the first quarter it was published. There have been seven further detailed technical enquiries about the invention from healthcare and wound dressing companies, indicating an unmet need in the market for such a product.
Smith & Nephew (Hull, UK), is expected to benefit significantly from this technology, including opportunities for the licensing of new products for wound therapy. The S&N Global R&D Centre for Wounds, based in Hull, has recently invested a further £8m to expand capabilities in wound healing. We are also exploring possible interactions with additional industrial collaborators who expressed an interest in the technology via In-Part. These include B2B Innovator MedTrade Products and Advanced Medical Solutions. Our industrial partners will help to define the requirements of the device, including key wound types, safety and effectiveness, operation in a moist environment, sterilisation and regulatory requirements. They are also potential collaborators and customers of the spinout which will commercialise or license the technology.
Sectors Electronics,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

Description Antibiofilm testing on steel awarded to Smartbiofilm for proof of principle studies
Amount $100,000 (USD)
Organisation DeLaval 
Sector Private
Country Sweden
Start 09/2022 
End 09/2023
Description Innovation to commercialisation of university research (ICURe) - Niloofar Haghighian
Amount £23,800 (GBP)
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2021 
End 01/2022
Description MRC Confidence in Concept - An electrochemical device for bacterial biofilm detection and destruction
Amount £54,999 (GBP)
Organisation Medical Research Council (MRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2020 
End 03/2021
Description Research England - Northern Accelerator (Connecting Capability Fund (NA-CCF) Proof of Concept funding for 'SmartBioFilm - a platform for bacterial detect and destroy'
Amount £49,070 (GBP)
Organisation United Kingdom Research and Innovation 
Department CCF
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2019 
End 04/2020
Description Smith & Nephew 
Organisation Smith and Nephew
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Experimental design and testing of a pilot device fuelled by a biofilm. Hosted a meeting with Smith & Nephew Wound Management R&D team in Durham.
Collaborator Contribution Smith & Nephew hosted a visit at their R&D Base in Hull for Durham University academics and Research Innovation Services staff. Letters of Support have been provided for grant applications. Samples of materials used in smart bandages have been supplied for testing. Provided advice on requirements for smart dressing development.
Impact Northern Accelerator Funding and MRC Confidence in Concept funding secured. Project is multidisciplinary. Involving expertise from S&N on smart bandage design and wound management. Once a pilot product has been assembled S&N will carry out further testing using their expertise in model wound infections. The Durham team has expertise in microbiology, electrochemistry and materials chemistry.
Start Year 2019
Title An electrochemical cpacitor device for use with a biofilm 
Description We have designed and constructed electrical devices that harness the redox capabilities of biofilm-forming bacteria to trigger a voltage change. Transiently, as the biofilm begins to form, redox active molecules produced by bacterial metabolism will induce a voltage change that can be detected and used to monitor biofilm formation. Concurrently, a hybrid bio-battery device formed from the initial bacterial growth can be used to generate a current which serves to destroy the biofilm and bacteria that it contains. 
IP Reference GB201900605 
Protection Patent / Patent application
Year Protection Granted 2019
Licensed No
Impact Development of a prototype device is still under development so there are no notable impacts yet. A priority patent application (GB201900605) on the technology was filed in January 2019 and a PCT application will be submitted shortly to provide protection of the technology in territories globally. The team is working closely with the Durham University RIS and the Technology Transfer Office to build an exploitation plan for the technology. The spinout option is currently the preferred route to commercialisation. To this end, the team, in collaboration with RIS, has successfully bid for Northern Accelerator (NA) proof-of-concept funds. If any further inventions emerge from the project, the IP will be considered for patenting. This will help build a portfolio of IP which will be licensed into the spinout when it is fully formed. The next steps commercially are to tender for a NA Executive to support the pre-incorporation phase of the company. This will bring an experienced business person into the team to establish the proposition, create a business plan and seek investment from the venture capital community. The scheme awards a milestone-based contract and possible sweat equity for an individual to drive the proposition toward full company formation. Interactions with Smith and Nephew Advanced Wound Management are in progress.