Manufacturer to commercialise research on bacterial biofilms

In a perfect example of industry and research collaboration, the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC), the University of Sydney and medical and industry manufacturer Whiteley Corporation have embarked on a project to find novel solutions for biofilm infections.

The joint project which will see the three parties co-invest $3.5 million over four years.

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 also be found on non-medical surfaces such as in pipes and on boat hulls, are expensive to remove and cause damage to surfaces.

Dr Greg Whiteley, one of the research leaders, said the manufacturing research project aims to commercialise a series of combination therapies being developed in collaboration with the University of Sydney.

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

The research will be led by Dr Jim Manos and Dr Theerthankar Das from the Central Clinical School’s Discipline of Infectious Diseases and Immunology in the University’s multidisciplinary Charles Perkins Centre, and Dr Trevor Glasbey and Dr Greg Whiteley from the Hunter-based Whiteley Corporation.

The research project has arisen from early findings by Dr Jim Manos and his team.

IMCRC CEO and managing director, David Chuter, said that incorporating advanced manufacturing technologies and processes into the project would be crucial to successfully commercialise the new formulated products.

“This project takes a new approach to resolving biofilm problems. 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,” said Chuter.

“It is great to see a local manufacturer such as the Whiteley Corporation embrace research innovation and invest in advanced manufacturing technologies that will not only benefit the human health sector, but also the manufacturing community in the Hunter Valley,” he said.


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.


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