Development of a nappy for the detection of Cytomegalovirus (CMV) in the urine of neonates

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Engineering and Physical Sciences


Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection occurs following in-utero transmission of virus from mother to foetus. In the UK it is estimated that 1-4 babies in every 200 will be born with congenital CMV, which is the most common cause of non-genetic sensory neural hearing loss. One in ten neonates with congenital CMV will have symptoms at birth including: hepatosplemomegally, thrombocytopaenia, heart defects and intracranial calcification. The remainder of neonates will be asymptomatic but of these, 10% will develop long-term sequelae, the most common of which is sensory neural hearing loss.

In the UK, the current standard of care is to consider treatment of neonates with congenital CMV and neurological symptoms (which includes hearing loss) within the first month of life. Prompt diagnosis is therefore essential for the window of treatment not to be missed. As neonates are typically discharged soon after birth, a rapid test would enable infection to be easily identified before discharge, enabling further investigations to be carried out in hospital.

Current tests for CMV use polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to analyse bodily fluids of symptomatic neonates, which can take 1-3 days and misses 90% of (asymptomatic) infected newborns. If a cheap and simple to use assay can be developed, it will revolutionise how we detect congenital CMV infections, allowing every neonate to be screened. As more evidence accumulates for the treatment of asymptomatic neonates and infants it is possible that CMV may be added to the newborn screening programme but the current methods of diagnosis may be cost-prohibitive.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S022201/1 01/04/2019 30/09/2027
2262757 Studentship EP/S022201/1 19/09/2019 30/09/2023 Robert Huw Bagley