Development of a nappy for the detection of cytomegalovirus in the urine of neonates

  • Robert Bagley

Student thesis: Phd


Viral infections reduce quality of life and place an unprecedented economic burden upon the world. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is the most common congenital infection, affecting around 1 in every 200 newborns. 90% of cases are asymptomatic. If not detected, infants may later develop life-changing symptoms such as deafness, seizures and organ failure. Currently, the favoured detection method is polymerase chain reaction. This complex procedure requires primers specific to the virus genome that become useless upon mutation. Additionally, sample extraction by amniocentesis endangers the mother and foetus. A virus detection technique that is rapid, non-specific, easy to use, works independently of symptoms and, most importantly, is safe and comfortable for the baby is necessary. This project combines the disciplines of antiviral materials, DNA dyes and point-of-care test devices to develop a CMV-detecting rapid test device. The first phase focused on destroying CMV virions to expose its genetic content. Antiviral polymers containing negatively charged sulfonate groups were synthesised via reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerisation. These were characterised by nuclear magnetic resonance and gel permeation chromatography. Secondly, derivatives of the fluorescent DNA dye Thiazole Orange were synthesised for the purpose of detecting CMV DNA. The third stage was the incorporation of the functional components into a clinical test device. Multiple devices were trialled, including dipsticks, lateral flow-style tests, inks and nappies. A rapid CMV DNA-detecting device has the potential to track the spread of CMV and reduce the likelihood of babies and infants developing lifelong symptoms.
Date of Award1 Aug 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorMichael Shaver (Supervisor) & Pamela Vallely (Supervisor)


  • Point-of-care test
  • Thiazole Orange
  • Sulfonated polymer
  • Nappy
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Virucide

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