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HTC Clinical Research Fellow, Natalie Hirst, wins Norman Williams Prize

One of the HTCs Clinical Research Fellows, Natalie Hirst has won the prestigious Norman Williams Prize at the recent Society of Academic and Research Surgeons meeting in Cambridge. The prize was awarded for Natalie’s work on “Biosensor technology for early detection of anastamotic leak and intra-abdominal sepsis after gastrointestinal surgery”.

In summary, anastomotic leak  is a cause of considerable morbidity and mortality.  Current diagnostic tests are insensitive and costly, and timely intervention is often missed.  Biosensor technology has the potential to offer “point of care” detection of leaking. Natalie looked at the three different biomarkers related to intra-abdominal sepsis (lactate, TNFα, E.coli) to identify which would most accurately and consistently indicate sepsis.  The lactate biomarker provided the highest diagnostic accuracy. A novel amperometric biosensor  was developed which was capable of accurately measuring lactate in patient peritoneal drain fluid samples.

The ability to detect intra-abdominal sepsis following surgery, and therefore intervene at an early stage, will have considerable implications for patient care and should reduce mortality significantly. The findings will also have financial implications for the NHS, helping to reduce the need or expensive, prolonged high dependency hospital care, which is often the outcome following anastomotic leak.

To review the scientific abstract please click here.

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