Development & Alumni Relations Office 

Queen’s catheter breakthrough could make life-changing difference 

06 March 2015

A pharmaceutical product that could significantly improve the quality of life for catheter users all over the world, is to be developed by Queen’s following a national funding award.

‘Uroglide’ is a new coating for catheters that aims to make insertion easier, less painful and with reduced risk of inflammation or infection. There are currently 26,000 intermittent catheter users in the UK – patients who insert and remove disposable catheters themselves, between four and eight times per day.

Aimed at the global healthcare market, including the USA’s estimated 300,000 intermittent catheter users, Uroglide-coated catheters are currently undergoing independent testing and could be available both on the NHS and privately by next year.

The Uroglide technology was developed by Professor Colin McCoy (above right), from the School of Pharmacy, and Dr Nicola Irwin (left), the key scientist for the project. Dr Irwin was one of just seven national winners of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Enterprise fellowships, which gives academics £85,000 each to develop their research into viable commercial products.

Speaking about the breakthrough, Professor McCoy said: “For patients with poor control over their bladders, intermittent self-catheterisation – which involves the regular insertion of catheters into the bladder via the urethra – has become the norm. This is largely due to the lower infection risk and greater personal independence associated with them. In fact, over 600 million of this type of catheter are now sold globally each year.

“Regular insertion of poorly lubricated catheters, however, is painful and can lead to difficult-to-treat urethral complications, such as damage, bleeding and inflammation. The coatings that are currently used dry out quickly and have changed very little in over a decade.

“With our team at Queen’s and support from Invest Northern Ireland, we developed a new coating that’s cheaper than the industry standard, yet stays wet for longer, is more slippery, and adheres strongly to the catheter. By easing insertion and removal, it should improve the patient’s experience and make a life-changing difference to their dignity and health."

Dr Nicola Irwin, a Research Fellow in the School of Pharmacy, said: “Winning this fellowship is very exciting as it gives us 12 months of funding, mentoring and training to develop our research into a spin-out company. Our technology has already been externally validated by a team of world-renowned entrepreneurs and provides a key example of how Queen’s research is being exported from the laboratory to the global marketplace and making an impact on society.”

Head of Queen’s School of Pharmacy, Professor David Woolfson, said: "I am delighted to congratulate Dr Irwin on obtaining this prestigious Fellowship award. Together with Professor McCoy, the team leader, their work is a prime example of the School's commitment to bring the benefits of world class pharmaceutical research to patients. It further illustrates why Queen’s has been placed in the top 10 in the UK for research intensity in the recent Research Excellence Framework.”


Media inquiries to Elaine Fitzsimons, Queen’s Communications Office, on or 028 9097 5292.


Back to Main News


Top of Page