A Cardiff Metropolitan University lecturer has been awarded a research grant of £48,233 from the Sir Halley Stewart Trust to develop a rapid diagnostic test for the identification of a specific infection among premature babies.
Dr Mike Beeton from the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University, aims to develop a test which can be used on neonatal intensive care units and can provide a result within minutes.
The research, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Worcester and Singleton Hospital, Swansea aims to tackle complications resulting from premature birth (babies born before 37 weeks) and which is the leading cause of death among babies.
As many as 60,000 babies are born early in the UK each year with 40% of cases being due to an infection. Among these cases, the most commonly isolated bacteria are ureaplasmas. Ureaplasma in the lungs of premature babies is associated with an increased risk of lung disease, damage to the gut and bleeding on the brain, compared with babies born early but not infected.
Dr Mike Beeton, Lecturer in Medical Microbiology at Cardiff Metropolitan University said: "This new test will allow us to identify Ureaplasma infection more rapidly than current methods and therefore allow the administration of appropriate antibiotics.
"This will not only benefit the baby in question but will have a positive impact on the families by reducing the time in which the baby is on the neonatal intensive care unit."
Dr Steve Coles, University of Worcester, said: "Early detection of Ureaplasma in premature babies is really important so that the correct antibiotics can be administered as quickly as possible.
"We are grateful that the Trust has supported this important research, which I hope will have an impact in the future."
Vicky Chant, from Sir Halley Stewart Trust said: "The Sir Halley Stewart Trust is delighted to be funding this innovative project, which has the potential to make a radical advance in this important field. We very much look forward to the results of this pioneering work."
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