The formation of biofilms in medical tubing is a major problem for patients and is associated with high costs for the healthcare system. Beyond the actual medical procedure, the patient is often treated with antibiotics or antifungal cures, as biofilm on the channels sides can cause further infections. Such problems can arise in e.g. various catheters, dialysis tubing and supply hoses to machines.



The consortium will explore different approaches using UV light and surface modifications for reducing the formation of biofilm in medical tubing. Depending on the application of the medical tube, the UV light will either be conducted directly through the fluid inside the tube, or be conducted along the inner surface. The latter will use knowledge about light conducting fibers and polymers to create multi-layer tubing. An anti-fouling process on the inside can then be created by controlling the exposure of UV light from the inside of the tube. In either case the patient itself will not be exposed to UV light as the outside of the tube will shield the light. 



Optical fibers are used increasingly to supply the world with the digital infrastructure that is necessary to maintain and develop telecommunications. This innovation consortium will create an expertise transfer as well as an innovative further development of the telecommunications industry to the medical industry.

UV light has a well-known cell-killing effect and is today used in many different areas such as water treatment and disinfection of air. The consortium will develop a UV-conductive structure on the inside of the tubing, e.g. in silica or polymer plastic. The UV light will then be transported along the length of the tube and continuously be released from its inside in order to prevent biofilm growth. By controlling the refractive index in the transition between the tube and the liquid material it is expected that this process can be designed specifically for different applications. The UV light should be released in typically less than one meter, and there are not any further special requirements to the waveguide transmitting characteristics over longer distances. Moreover, it will be investigated whether the addition of TiO2 particles to the fiber will further accelerate the anti-fouling process through photo catalysis.


The developed technologies in BIOFORS will be generic and relevant for other medico applications (e.g. analysis equipment) and for industries with special demands for quality and hygiene such as food production and water treatment. 


Project start Feb. 2014. Duration 3½ years.