Aston University is collaborating with Partnership Medical to develop a robotic endoscope cleaning system


Aston University and Medical Center (PML) have completed a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), which has led to the development of a revolutionary automated system for high-level cleaning of endoscopes.

KTP is a tripartite collaboration between a trading company, an academic partner and a highly qualified researcher, known as a KTP Fellow.

The project achieved pioneering levels in the field of cleaning, thus reducing the risk of bacterial contamination for patients and lowering morbidity and mortality rates.

Endoscopes are long, thin tubes with a light and a camera at one end. Due to the sensitivity of the materials and electronics, they cannot be sterilized in an autoclave (a machine that uses steam under pressure), which opens up a high potential for microbial infection. The automated prototype and new cleaning materials developed resulted in a simple five-minute treatment that delivered levels of cleaning 1,000 times more deep than expected, providing levels of hygiene and microbial reduction much higher than those currently possible with conventional manual procedures.

Partnership Medical Limited (PML), based in Stoke-on-Trent, specialize in the supply of cleaning equipment and consumables for flexible endoscopes, with over 20 years’ distribution experience. The company aims to become a leading manufacturer/supplier of endoscopy departments in clinics and hospitals all over the world.

The KTP academic team included Dr Andy Sutherland, a reader in organic/polymer chemistry and a member of the Aston Institute for Materials Research with expertise in mesocrystal formation and working with nanoparticles. Dr. Sutherland worked alongside Dr. Tony Worthington, a clinical microbiologist and assistant professor of biosciences in the College of Health and Life Sciences. Dr. Thien Duong was involved as a partner at KTP, bringing expertise in synthetic chemistry.

The impact of the Knowledge Transfer Partnership on the Medical Limited Partnership and its employees has been remarkably significant.

The project perfectly facilitated the company’s future vision of becoming a world-leading supplier of endoscope accessories and consumables and paved the way for the formation of the future R&D department. “

Justin Briggs, director of the Medical Partnership

Dr Andy Sutherland, Reader in Organic/Polymer Chemistry at Aston University, said: “If the endoscope cleaning system we have developed is successful in clinical trials, it will lead to much cleaner endoscopes in hospitals and, hopefully, prevent people from dying accordingly. In terms of impact, we feel the KTP project has the potential to be very significant.”


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