UNSW Sydney joins team tackling harmful bacterial biofilms as part of manufacturing research partnership


Novel solutions for biofilm infections are the focus of a collaborative research agreement between the University of Sydney, Whiteley Corporation and the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC) which started in 2018. UNSW Sydney joined the project in 2020, significantly increasing the academic manpower available to the project.

Over four years, more than $5 million will be co-invested in the research and development of new therapeutic treatments for biofilm mediated infection by the IMCRC, University of Sydney, UNSW and medical and industry manufacturer Whiteley Corporation.

Announcing the participation of UNSW in the project, Dr Greg Whiteley said the extra resource and skill set will significantly increase the project’s ability to develop and commercialise a series of combination therapies.

“Building on the early findings by Associate Professor Jim Manos and his team at the University of Sydney’s School of Medical Sciences and Charles Perkins Centre, and with UNSW’s expertise in the development of novel antimicrobials used in disinfectants, we are accelerating our development efforts to bring new biofilm removal solutions faster to market.”

The UNSW team, led by Professor Mark Willcox, will be developing and manufacturing anti-biofilm peptide compounds to be included in formulations created by the University of Sydney, that can be used as treatments for wounds and cystic fibrosis. The peptide compounds are either targeted at biofilm disruption or biofilm inhibition and can aid in the development of new treatments to reduce microbial load for wounds to improve healing. The new patented compounds are added into formulations by Whiteley Corporation and then go back to both UNSW and the University of Sydney for further testing.