Research in the CCTMIH began by addressing unmet needs in wound management, continence management, blood filtration and infection control. As the research has evolved in response to clinical challenges, the development of new implantable and bioactive textile materials has become a major focus, aimed at addressing performance gaps in tissue repair and regeneration, diagnostics, wound healing and the treatment of disease. This work involves research on biomaterials such as collagen, textile manufacturing and medical device design, as well as clinical evaluation.
Blood Filtration – globally millions of blood transfusions are carried out each year necessitating the processing of donated blood. Research aimed at developing cost effective filter media and affinity membrane technology is also important in relation to dialysis and apheresis techniques. Sophisticated fibre-based filters are required to ensure a safe and consistent blood supply for those in need as well as enabling improved therapeutic treatments for patients at the bed-side where selective removal of unwanted compounds is required to manage or treat life-threatening conditions.
Infection Control and Healthcare Associated Infections (HCAIs) are major global concerns. Alternative strategies are being developed to reduce contamination of solid and biological surfaces such as alternative biocides, self-cleaning surfaces and new delivery vehicles that have the potential to greatly reduce transmission rates in hospitals. The fundamental mechanisms involved in cleaning surfaces and capturing particles are also being studied as a basis to develop improved cleaning devices. The work is carried out in cooperation with infection control clinicians.
Wound management – Chronic wounds are a major problem in old age and arise for reasons such as poor circulation, neuropathy, difficulty moving, systemic illnesses, age, and repeated trauma. Chronic wounds can include venous leg ulcers, pressure sores and burn injuries. Interactive and bioactive dressings capable of managing biofilms, enzymatic activity as well as controlled delivery of therapeutic compounds to the wound site (where applicable) are areas of development. Management of exudate and microbial activity in the wound site whilst minimising the risk of infection are key issues in reducing healing times. With increasing rates of diabetes and obesity, significantly more people will suffer from chronic wounds that will not heal quickly. Chronic wounds cause severe emotional and physical stress as well as creating a significant financial burden on patients and the entire healthcare system. New hydrogel materials are also being developed for chronic woundcare.
Continence management – millions of people have a bladder control problem negatively impacting upon their quality of life. Work at Leeds aims to significantly increase device disposal options for patients, carers and NHS staff by developing technology capable of enabling discrete, leakage resistant, fully toilet flushable devices. Morbidity, social withdrawal and nursing time issues are also being tackled by developing alternative technologies for combatting odour, reducing bacterial activity, skin irritation and the risk of infection associated with extended use of ostomy and ileostomy products. This research also aims to reduce the environmental impact of products after disposal.
In addition to these areas, projects connect with other fields of healthcare such as surgical implants, tissue repair and regeneration, assistive technologies and protective clothing.