Advanced manufacturing partnership targets bacterial biofilms

Thursday, 14 June, 2018

Advanced manufacturing partnership targets bacterial biofilms

Novel solutions for biofilm infections are the focus of a four-year, $3.5 million collaborative research agreement between the University of Sydney, medical and industry manufacturer Whiteley Corporation and the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC).

The research will be led by Dr Jim Manos and Dr Theerthankar Das from the University of Sydney, along with Dr Trevor Glasbey and Dr Greg Whiteley from the Whiteley Corporation.

Biofilms formed by bacteria on living tissue cause morbidity and mortality in humans and animals. They also form on inanimate medical-related surfaces such as catheters, implants, medical instruments and almost all dry surfaces, where they pose a significant infection risk for patients. Biofilms can additionally be found on non-medical surfaces such as in pipes and on boat hulls, where they are expensive to remove and cause damage to surfaces.

“Bacterial biofilms cause both human disease and death, and these microbes are also responsible for contamination in industrial and institutional settings,” Dr Whiteley said.

“This manufacturing research project aims to commercialise a series of combination therapies being developed in collaboration with the University of Sydney, arising from early findings by Dr Manos and his team.”

Dr Manos said the partnership will expand on the work of Dr Das, a postdoctoral fellow who developed a three-part treatment to tackle bacterial biofilms called combination therapy.

“This project will demonstrate how combination therapy can be used to effectively disrupt the formation of biofilm and eradicate underlying bacteria found in the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients, chronic urinary tract infections, diabetic leg wounds, burn wounds, dry and wet surfaces, the food industry and industrial oil, gas and water pipes,” he said.

“We will bring products to market through the development and application of innovative manufacturing technologies that improve biofilm removal — both in areas of medical importance to improve the lives of people worldwide and in industry to achieve less waste in food production and savings in the cost of transported liquids.”

IMCRC CEO and Managing Director David Chuter said that incorporating advanced manufacturing technologies and processes into the project will be crucial to successfully commercialise the new formulated products.

“This project takes a new approach to resolving biofilm problems,” he said. “Applying advanced manufacturing techniques and automating key functions of the formulation development and production process right from the start will provide operational efficiencies and drive commercial outcomes.”

The partnership follows an initial grant from the university’s Commercial Development and Industry Partnerships (CDIP) Industry & Community Engagement Fund and the Whiteley Corporation, used to develop the data for the successful IMCRC submission.

Image caption: Dr Jim Manos and Dr Theerthankar Das from the University of Sydney, with Whiteley Corporation’s Dr Greg Whiteley.

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