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EU funded WOUNDMONITOR speeds-up healing for burn victims
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12/08/2010 00:00:00

The University of Manchester has led a team of European researchers in the development of an innovative diagnostic system which in just a few minutes pinpoints the type of bacterial infections in critically ill patients suffering from burns, chronic skin ulcers or serious wounds.  And the quicker infections can be diagnosed, the faster patients' wounds can be treated, which in turn will lower the cost of lengthy hospital stays. Until now, doctors have had to rely on microbiological tests that took several days to identify which bacteria were causing the infection.

Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes said: "Every summer we see images of people with terrible injuries caused in the home or by forest fires. Thanks to EU funding, the technology developed by WOUNDMONITOR will speed up diagnosis time and help doctors to prescribe the appropriate treatment much faster."

The prototype device can identify types of bacteria from the small amount of volatile gases, recognisable by the smell they emit. The experts first identified the three major types of bacteria: staphylococcus, streptococcus and pseudomonas, which account for about 80 percent of the bacterial infections found in burns. They then identified the volatile chemicals spread by the bacteria when they multiply. With this information, the team designed an instrument - about the size of an A4 file - containing eight gas sensors. The pattern of the responses from the sensors represents the characteristics of the chemicals present, by which the bacteria are identified.

This complex but very compact instrument has been tested in the University Hospital of South Manchester and at a Kaunas regional hospital in Lithuania. Results have been very satisfactory and the researchers have positively assessed the instrument's risk level.

Several commercial companies have shown interest in the WOUNDMONITOR instrument and negotiations are underway to qualify the instrument for commercial use.


    The three year project involving research teams from Germany, Italy and Lithuania, was coordinated by the University of Manchester's School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science.  The department of Burns and Plastic Surgery at South Manchester University Hospitals Trust also participated in the 2.2 million project, which received 1.67 million euro in EU funding from the Sixth Framework Programme for research.

    More than 4,000 people die in the EU each year because of accidents caused by fire and many thousands more are hospitalised to receive treatment for burns. Most of the burns accidents occur at home or at work and are more predominant among vulnerable groups like the elderly or young children. Early diagnosis and treatment of infection in burn patients is critical. However, despite advances in modern medicine, it can take up to three days for microbiological tests to identify the bacteria present in the wound. Only after this identification can doctors select the appropriate treatment.

    For further details on the WOUNDMONITOR project, see:

    More EU-funded information and communication technologies research success stories will be presented at ICT 2010, Europe's largest ICT research event in Brussels from 27 to 29 September 2010. Journalists can attend after registering at:


    For more information, please contact the London press office on 020 7973 1971.

    Last update: 31/10/2010  |Top