January 14, 2016 — Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is a common medical condition affecting between 8 and 10 million individuals in the United States every year. The infection is difficult to diagnose in infants and elderly patients since the symptoms are vague and non-specific.

Difficulties in collecting sterile urine samples from the segments of the population most prone to UTIs complicate diagnosis. While sterile urine samples can be readily collected in adults using simple plastic cups, urine collections in infants and bedridden patients relies on adhesive plastic bags that are routinely contaminated by skin-borne bacteria or fecal matter.

hu160114_ucap2“Contamination is so common that physicians often needlessly prescribe broad-spectrum antibiotics prophylactically,” increasing the risk of developing antibiotic resistant bacteria,” said Dr. Amir Orlev.

Orlev was part of a multidisciplinary group that set out solve this problem as part of the BioDesign: Medical Innovation program, created by The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and its affiliated Hadassah Medical Center.

He partnered with engineering students Eliezer Keinan and Nitzan Guberman, who developed UCap, a non-invasive microfiber urine-collection pad.

The innovative pad contains bundles of hollow glass microfibers that quickly draw urine samples from absorptive pads in seconds, while the remainder of the urine is absorbed by a polymer matrix.

As the urine is rapidly collected, cross-contamination of the urine sample by contact with skin or fecal matter is prevented. The low-cost but highly effective solution can save time and money in the collection of sterile samples from patients prone to UTIs.

“More than 11 million urine tests are carried out each year in infants and elderly patients,” said Itai Monnickendam and Simi Hinden, MBA students working with the group as part of The Hebrew University’s BioDesign program. “This presents a market of $100 million annually in the United States alone.”

BioDesign: Medical Innovation is a multi-disciplinary, team-based approach to medical innovation, created by The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and its affiliated Hadassah Medical Center. Sponsored by Boston Scientific and the Terumo Medical Corporation, the program takes outstanding medical fellows, bioengineering and business graduate students, and tutors them in the science and practice of bringing a medical innovation to the market. The program is directed by Professor Yaakov Nahmias, director of the Alexander Grass Center for Bioengineering at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Professor Chaim Lotan, director of the Heart Institute at Hadassah Medical Center.

The innovations produced by the Biodesign program participants are commercialized by Yissum, the technology transfer company of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Hadasit, the technology transfer company of the Hadassah Medical Center.