Inventor: Alex Patto, WaterScope
Mentor: Dr. Bill Matthews

Almost all patients with a suspected urinary tract infection will receive broad-spectrum antibiotics after testing with a dipstick in care homes or doctor surgeries. Current methods to test for antibiotic susceptibility rely on colony culture and are usually conducted in centralised diagnostic laboratories taking 2-5 days. With patients unable to wait for definitive results, the best course of action is to prescribe broad-spectrum antibiotics which may not work effectively and may increase the prevalence of antimicrobial resistant bacteria. This is especially exacerbated in developing countries where resources are low, and even the use of conventional microbiology culture techniques are limited.

WaterScope are a University of Cambridge spin-out, already working with clinicians from Addenbrooke’s to run a small-scale clinical feasibility trial. They have considerable expertise in developing simple-to-use systems to quantify bacteria from liquids, having previously developed a drinking water testing system. They hope to be able to reduce the testing time to 2 hours for initial results and 6 hours for more precise results.

WaterScope has focused on developing-world implementations of their technology so far, and would like to do the same for this application.

The i-Team will be tasked with investigating the need for urinary tract infection diagnosis in low-to-middle income countries. They will be asked to research the market segments, competitors and barriers to entry, to provide a recommendation on commercialisation strategy. Questions such as “How is such diagnosis currently carried out?” and “How could a quicker diagnosis improve patient outcomes?” Their key focus will be to identify the contexts where the technology can have the greatest impact for patients.