New device rapidly diagnoses gastrointestinal disease by 'reading' the odour of biological fluids

A pioneering new device that could help over four billion adults and children who suffer from infectious diarrhoea in the developing world and reduce outbreaks of diseases such as clostridium difficile (C.Diff) in UK hospital wards is the winner of this year's University of Bristol's New Enterprise Competition.

Dr Chris Probert, Consultant and Reader in Gastroenterology at Bristol University and Professor Norman Ratcliffe at the University of the West of England, developed Odor-Reader, a device able to rapidly diagnose gastrointestinal disease by ‘reading' the odour of biological fluids including stool and urine.

Delays in diagnosing gastrointestinal diseases can lead to patients being ill for longer, some may die, many will cost more to treat along with infections spreading to other people. In England and Wales there are over 50,000 cases of C.Diff (the latest ‘superbug') each year. The infection prolongs hospitalisation and is associated with high morbidity and mortality as well as costing the NHS around £60 million annually.

The first prize of £15,000 was awarded to the researchers at the University's annual enterprise dinner held tonight [Tuesday 3 July].

The second prize of £5,000 was awarded to a team of researchers from Bristol University's School of Chemistry and Department of Physics (Dr Neil Fox, Dr Gareth Fuge, Chemistry and Dr Suzanne Furkert, Physics) for their device Light Materials Ltd.

Light Materials is a new type of solar energy-to-electricity converter which is cheaper to produce and easier to operate than those currently available. The device will enable systems to generate electricity for homes and businesses. The converter also has the potential to be used in large numbers in concentrated solar power stations, that are beginning to be built in the ‘sun belt' countries.

As well as securing the £5,000 prize, Light Materials also won the Timms-Smith Award for best chemistry entry. The Timms-Smith Award, which is supported by BOC Edwards, aims to recognise the achievements of Dr Peter Timms and Bob Smith whose scientific collaborations over many years led to the commercialisation of a gas abatement system for purifying waste gas streams.

Bristol Buggy, a transportation trolley designed by UBHT staff, Jenny Anstead and Peter Smithson, to accommodate a child in full plaster cast after orthopaedic surgery won the £3,000 Best Social Enterprise award.

The undergraduate wild-card prize of £1,000 was awarded to A2B Navigation Solutions, a transport navigation system accessed via mobile phone technology.

Bristol University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Eric Thomas, said: "Our annual enterprise dinner showcases the full range of the University's enterprise activities, from entrepreneurship training and support to technology transfer and new company acceleration. I am proud to be able to share our success with our partners from the wider business community."

Dr Neil Bradshaw, Director of Enterprise at the University, said: "It is pleasing to see the high calibre of this year's competition winners. The standard of entries was extremely high and it was a tough decision for our panel of experts."

Two other entries were highly commended, The Petal Collection, an affordable range of organic and herbal beauty care products won £3,000 plus free legal advice worth a further £3,000 from Osborne Clarke. TalkTone, a mandarin self-teaching software system was also highly commended, winning £3,000 and six months rent-free office space in the Bristol SETsquared Acceleration Centre.

Guests attending the prestigious award dinner, sponsored by SPark – the Bristol and Bath science park, saw each finalist present their entry. This year's competition entries were judged by a panel of experts from the sponsoring organisations including Bristol City Council, BOC Edwards, Business West, Deloitte, Fortis Bank, IP Group, STMicroelectronics, Osborne Clarke and United Bristol Healthcare (NHS) Trust.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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