QUICK – Developing a point of care diagnostic device for urinary tract infection (UTI)

D4D is collaborating with scientists, clinicians, patients and businesses to develop a point of care technology to enable more accurate diagnosis of UTIs, and to guide treatment selection.

Project Lead and Organisation

Professor Marcus Drake, Bristol Urological Institute, North Bristol NHS Trust

When did project start?


Clinical Requirement

Urinary tract infection (UTI) is a common and unpleasant problem affecting thousands of people – an estimated 15% of women will experience a UTI each year. It leads to painful symptoms and time off work, and sometimes significant complications such as kidney damage. GPs diagnose UTI in patients based on their symptoms. Often they will also check a urine sample for infecting bacteria, and for white blood cells, which show the patient’s body is generating an inflammatory reaction to the infection. Current methods to look for bacteria and inflammation are slow and sometimes unreliable – it can take three days to get a result for a urine sample sent to a microbiology laboratory. As the patient has ongoing symptoms the GP will sometime prescribe antibiotics before the result is back. However, if the result received actually shows no infection, antibiotics could be harmful to the patient, and also to the community at large, due to increasing risk of antibiotic resistance.

The Solution

We are developing a device that can be used in primary care to identify UTI bacteria and inflammation in five minutes. The patients will give a urine sample to a healthcare professional, who will then put some of the sample into a test cartridge. This cartridge contains antibodies to common UTI bacteria and a protein we believe will be a better test for inflammation than the current check for white blood cells. When the cartridge goes into the new detection device, the diagnosis will be made. We will ensure the device is accurate, gives results in line with standard tests, and we will ensure it enhances NHS treatment pathways.


We anticipate that if the technology proves effective it could have wide-reaching impacts on health practice and clinical pathways, especially in primary care. It could lead to reduced use of antibiotics, and reduction of the incidence of harm to patients who may otherwise have been inappropriately prescribed antibiotics. It has the potential to reduce health costs by more accurately diagnosing patients, thereby reducing inappropriate admissions, and reducing test costs.

What is D4D’s role?

D4D have been working with the Bristol Urological Institute and other collaborators to address this difficult clinical problem. We were involved in fine tuning the unmet clinical need, identifying project partners, developing the funding application, and are leading or co-leading work packages around exploitation, and device design within user contexts.


  • NIHR Devices for Dignity MedTech Co-operative at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • University of West of England
  • North Bristol NHS Trust
  • NIHR Community MedTech and In vitro diagnostics Co-operative
  • University of Oxford
  • Sheffield Hallam University
  • University of Bristol


This is a summary of independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)’s i4i Programme, Rapid Diagnosis of Urinary Tract Infection in Primary Healthcare, IL-LB-0417-20004. Views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.