Research Starting on Alternative Treatment for Recurrent UTIs

The CU Urogynecology doctors are part of a team awarded the SPARK Colorado grant to work on a drug delivery system to eradicate recurrent urinary tract infections, which account for about $1.5 billion in U.S. hospital costs.

Denver Dr. Marsha K. Guess and Dr. Kathleen Connell are working with a multidisciplinary team under the SPARK Colorado program to improve the quality of life for women dealing with recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs).

The SPARK Colorado program was created to turn biological technologies developed in academic research into clinically viable treatment options for patients. The goal is to bridge the gap from the lab bench to the patient bedside.

“Recurrent UTIs are a common problem that have a huge quality of life impact on our patients and women in general,” said Dr. Guess. “The idea of getting together a group of medical providers who all have different expertise is exciting, because we can come at this problem from different directions but have the same goal in mind.”

Urinary tract infections are among the most common bacterial infections, posing significant health, financial and quality of life burden worldwide. They account for more than 100,000 hospital admissions annually at an estimated cost of $5 billion in the United States alone.

Recurrent infections occur in up to 25% of people suffering with a UTI. Current treatments are ineffective for these individuals, in part because bacteria can create a biofilm that shields them from oral and intravenous antibiotics, allowing them to persist and cause recurrent infections.

Repetitive treatment with oral drugs can lead to the development of multi-drug resistant infections. This results in an increased risk of hospitalization for intravenous antibiotic therapy, which treats the active infection but does not protect against future recurrences.

The SPARK team is working on a novel, cost-effective alternative treatment for recurrent UTIs. This technology will reduce the number of in-patient admissions for recurrent UTIs by providing a mechanism for local delivery of antibiotics, directly to the bladder, without the need for extensive intravenous therapies.

This is a two-year grant that started in February 2019. The SPARK program started at Stanford University and came to CU Anschutz last year.

For more information, please call 720-505-5063 or contact us online.

About University of Colorado Urogynecology

University of Colorado Urogynecology is the largest urogynecology and reconstructive pelvic surgery practice in Colorado. CU Urogynecology is dedicated to providing women of all ages with comprehensive treatment for pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence, in order to save and restore their quality of life. Learn more at