Towards a rapid, hand-held, biosensor-based detector for Clostridium difficile


Project period: July 2016 – March 2017

GW4 community leads
University of Bath: Dr Pedro Estrela
University of Bristol: Professor Martin Cryan, Dr Andrei Sarua
Cardiff University: Professor Adrian Porch, Professor Les Baillie, Dr Niek Buurma, Dr Simon Pope
University of Exeter:
 William Leslie Barnes
Mr Tracy Wotherspoon, Microsemi Ltd. (industrial partner)

 Initiator project – GW4 Biosensor Network 

Project overview

The main impact of our project will be in healthcare, where we propose to tackle the major societal problem of antibiotic resistance by developing a rapid detector for bacterial infection (in our case for Clostridium difficile) that will lead to its appropriate treatment. The Chief Medical Officer of England, Professor Dame Sally Davies, has stated that “Antimicrobial resistance poses a catastrophic threat. If we don’t act now, any one of us could go into hospital in 20 years for minor surgery and die because of an ordinary infection that can’t be treated by antibiotics.”

Clostridium difficile infection usually presents itself as diarrhoea and is commonly associated with previous antibiotic use, mainly affecting the elderly and debilitated. In 2012 alone there were 1,646 CDI deaths in England and Wales (0.8% of all hospital deaths). Public Health England (PHE) has stated that, “In order to continue to tackle Clostridium difficile infections, additional interventions in the community, primary care and acute Trusts will need to be identified and actioned.”

This is what our detector hopes to realise – a diagnostic bedside test with a turnaround time of 10 minutes would not delay the appropriate management of patients for both antibiotic treatment and implementation of infection control procedures.