The gold standard for diagnosis of the causative agent in cases of keratitis (infection of the cornea, the clear window of the eye) is a scraping of the lesion, which is plated onto agar in the clinic and then cultured in a diagnostic laboratory. The process takes a minimum of 24 hours and has a low sensitivity of only 50%. Furthermore, as many skin organisms cause keratitis, it is difficult to differentiate contamination from the causative agent. Treatments are often changed repeatedly leading to increased expense and distress for patients and uncertainty for clinicians. This project would suit a biomedical engineer/technologist who can think out of the box.
Animal models of keratitis approximate disease in humans closely. Methods will be worked up and validated on these models before being trialled in the clinic. This project will require the student to survey models of diagnosis for other infective conditions as well as develop novel diagnostic methods. The ocular surface is easily accessible and lends itself to new approaches to infection diagnosis.
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