Whiteley Corporation has received an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Grant, in the mid-year 2013 round, for a project investigating the ‘Developing of Novel Chemistries for Removing Environmental Surface Biofilms to Reduce Hospital Acquired Infections’.
The grant offers three years of funding into this important area of research and development.
‘The team of researchers will be led from Macquarie University, with collaboration with the University of Western Sydney and Whiteley Corporation as the Linkage partner,’ said a 2 July 2013 Whiteley Corporation media statement.
Whiteley CEO Greg Whiteley stated: “The total value of this research program is in excess of $1 million dollars. The awarding of this grant recognises Whiteley Corporation’s long term commitment to collaborative research with universities around Australia.”
The research team will be led by Dr Karen Vickery, an Innovation Fellow at Macquarie University.
“This research will result in better cleaning of our hospitals and hence a decrease in the chance of patients developing infections when they are in hospitals,” noted Dr Vickery.
“Currently, up to 20 percent of patients in intensive care units develop antibiotic resistant infections and environmental contamination plays a large part in transmission of these infections,” she added.
Whiteley Corporation will be an active partner in examining the make-up of the biofilms and will research ways of removing these materials from surfaces.
Under the supervision of Dr Trevor Glasbey, the R&D team will conduct the majority of the chemical analysis at Whiteley Corporation’s Tomago research laboratory – a site that has the necessary experience and analytical equipment.
“We applaud the members of our own team and our collaborative research partnership team, on their commitment and hard work, and we also thank the Australian Government for the revitalisation of the R&D Grant scheme which allows for enhanced deductibility for businesses engaged in this type of new knowledge development,” said Greg Whiteley.
“This project will develop new technologies that not only benefit Australian hospitals but which provide enhanced manufacturing and export opportunities for our business, building further value into the industrial heartland of the Hunter Valley,” he explained.
Dr Vickery will supervise the isolation, identification and characterisation of bacterial biofilms from environmental and clinical samples and analysis. She has wide experience in developing in-vitro biofilm models as well as identification and isolation of biofilm infecting instruments and implants.
Dr Vickery will plan, prioritise and supervise the laboratory work of the Research Officer and supervise the PhD student.
“Our researchers were the first to find and publish on antibiotic resistant bacteria, like methicillin resistant
Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA or “golden Staph”) living attached to hospital surfaces in communities called biofilms,” pointed out Dr Vickery.
The aim of the research and development is to develop new agents that penetrate the biofilm quickly and break the bonds between the biofilm and the surface. The desired outcome is to improve cleaning efficiency, decrease infection rates, save lives and reduce healthcare costs.