Kirsty Smitten

Kirsty SmittenThe Problem:

Antimicrobial resistance is globally responsible for 700,000 annual fatalities. By 2050 this could reach 10 million annual deaths, costing the global economy £66 trillion. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are significant causes of this cost and morbidity, affecting 150 million people worldwide. UTIs account for 19.7% of hospital infections, costing £300 to £3,000 per patient, per bed, per day, and cost the NHS £434 million annually. Ventilator associated pneumonia (VAP) causes 10,000 to 20,000 infections in the UK annually, with 10% to 20% of patients ventilated for more than 48 hours developing the condition, each case costing the NHS £10,000 to £20,000.

The Solution:

Metallobio’s novel panel of antimicrobial additives are based on protected, scalable one-agent chemistry, have as high activities as clinically available antibiotics and retain this high activity on WHO critical pathogens. Metallobio is incorporating the additives into medical device coatings that, when compared to their silver, copper and zinc competitors, are more durable and more active on a broader spectrum of bacteria. Although broadly applicable, Kirsty’s present target markets are catheter-associated UTIs and VAP.

In collaboration with Sheffield Hallam University, Metallobio is developing an antimicrobial sol-gel coating, developed for controlled release of patented antimicrobials. The technology has shown potential as an antibiofilm coating for urinary and central venous catheters and demonstrated effective release of antimicrobials, while exhibiting no cytotoxicity in vitro against human uroepithelial and bladder cell lines.

Kirsty’s vision over the next 12 to 18 months is to develop the technology towards a marketable product, with the prototype of hard lacquer and sol-gel coatings complete and antimicrobial efficacy studied. This will lead to preclinical development for catheter and endotracheal tube coatings, de-risking the technology.


  • Metallobio’s CEO has received awards for her research from:
  1. ELRIG Early Career Professional Impact Award
  2. Forbes 30 Under 30 in Science and Healthcare
  3. The Ernst Young Sponsored Nova Prize in Chemistry
  • Metallobio has been awarded several non-dilutive funding grants:
  1. Innovate UK – ICURe follow-on funding.
  2. EPSRC – Knowledge Exchange – coating prototype development
  3. MRC – Confidence in Concept – sol-gel coating development.
  • Metallobio is working closely with research groups at Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Sheffield to develop the coating technology
  • Metallobio is also in the process of agreeing heads of terms for co-development programmes with a market-leading industrial partner 



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