Lab+Life Scientist Apr 2015

Page 14


Bacteria-resistant catheters to reduce infection Flinders University researchers are undertaking a project to reduce urinary tract infections associated with the use of catheters during hospital stays. Lecturer and researcher Dr Ingo Koeper explained that high rates of infection in patients are “not surprising really, because as soon as you insert foreign material into the body, bacteria will grow”. Current medical practice is to regularly change catheters in an effort to prevent infection; however, this is uncomfortable for patients and expensive for the health system. Dr Koeper and his team have proposed an alternative that will be both simpler and more effective - coating the catheter with a non-toxic bacteria-resistant chemical compound. The project came about after Dr Koeper learnt a colleague in the water desalination field was using a similar technique on desalination membranes. “We are using a similar polymer and a similar

Automated mineralogy system installed at NSW mine Scientific equipment supplier AXT has announced the installation of a TESCAN

method,” he said, “and early laboratory results have

TIMA automated mineralogy system at Northparkes Mines, a copper and gold

been promising, suggesting that we can cut bacterial

mine located in Central West NSW. This marks the first mine site installation of an

growth by 95%.”

automated SEM-based minerals analysis system in Australia. The TESCAN Integrated Mineral Analyzer (TIMA) uses a scanning electron microscope (SEM) with a highly integrated energy dispersive X-ray analysis (EDX) system to perform full spectrum analyses at very fast speeds. This enables fully automated data collection, resulting in fast and reliable results. The product is able to characterise mineral abundance, size by size liberation, mineral association and grain size automatically on multiple samples. The system will add high-resolution, automated mineralogy capabilities for advanced characterisation of process plant and geological samples to Northparkes’ on-site assay and metallurgical laboratory offerings. The automated data will be utilised in both a process plant and ore characterisation sense. “This installation is a major advance as it takes the technology from the laboratory to the mine site,” said TESCAN TIMA Business Development Manager Paul Gottlieb. “The TIMA data can be analysed much more rapidly, resulting in faster fine-tuning of plant performance and increased productivity.” In terms of production control and optimisation, the information from the

Now, said Dr Koeper, the team needs to determine

product will be integrated with plant control variables to allow troubleshooting

that the product they are using to coat the catheter is

and optimisation of concentrator performance, resulting in improved production

safe for human use. The team is working closely with

efficiency. Data will be used to support metallurgical optimisation projects,

urology doctors and nurses based at the Repatriation

identify opportunities for improvement and justify plant changes. The instrument

General Hospital, where they are analysing the data of

will also be used to support mining operations including resource model

urology patients and interviewing medical staff about

validation and optimisation.

current catheter practice. With the help of a $30,000 grant from The Repat

“The benefits expected from the TIMA will apply to all areas of our business, including exploration, underground development and production, ore process

Foundation, the researchers plan to develop a suitable

control and marketing - all linking together to achieve our goal of greater

chemical compound and hold comprehensive clinical

efficiency,” said Northparkes Mines Manager Ore Processing Department Roslyn

trials to ensure its safety and efficacy. Dr Koeper said

Dalton. “In particular, the TIMA will be a good fit for our existing metallurgical

the team is “hoping that within five years we may have a

applications. The TIMA offering is developing and expanding and we are excited

new bacteria-resistant catheter on the market”.

to be a part of that, including having user input into future software development.”

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