How the biological and physical world come together with Prof Sally McArthur

Hear Prof Sally McArthur, Director, Swinburne Innovation Precinct Swinburne University of Technology, discuss wound infection, and how biotechnology can offer solutions to wounds that linger over time.  Prof McArthur will present Controlling Biology at Surfaces: Exploring the effects of micro/nanostructure and chemistry on bacterial adhesion on Wednesday 26 October at IBS 2016.


Viiew the video on YouTube.

Q: What’s your presentation topic and how does it relate to your area of expertise?

Sally McArthur: So, what I’m working on and what I‘ll be discussing at BioFest this year, is how the biological world and the physical world that we create come together. And so, we’re looking at how nano fibres interact with bacteria and how changes in those nanofibre sizes, and changes in the surface chemistry of those fibres, can actually influence whether a bacteria will attach to the surface, or whether it actually curls around it and dies.

Q: What excites you most about this topic?

S.M: It’s a really interesting area. One of the biggest problems we have is wound infection, and so you have people who have wounds that haven’t healed for years, and they’re open to infection and bacteria getting into them. They just don’t heal. Can you imagine living with something that’s infected all the time? And so we’re trying to create wound dressings that actually remove the infection from the wound. Not adding in any microbials – because we all know that the bacteria are actually developing resistance – but using the physical structures and the chemistry of the dressing to actually attract bacteria out of the wound and into the dressing, so you can just change it. And you clean up the wound as you go.

Q: How do you see this field developing over the next 12 months?

S.M: The wound dressing market is huge. It’s a massive, massive upmarket all over the world, and with the prevalence of diabetes in society, we get these non-healing ulcers that people have, and they can live with that for years and years and years. So over the next twelve months, there’s a lot of work going on internationally on developing different types of approaches to healing wounds. And so that can involve things that actually deal with the infection, but also things that trigger the cells that are in the wound to actually re-close, so that we don’t just get left with an uninfected wound, but we actually now have an uninfected wound that is then ready and able to heal itself. So in the next twelve months, I expect there to be products on the market that will actually be starting to induce some of these properties.

Q: In your opinion, why should people attend International Bio Fest 2016?

S.M: The joys of BioFest is that it’s such a diverse community, and that’s what’s really exciting. It’s where researchers meet industry – meet people who are looking for new ideas and new ways of exploiting our knowledge as well. And that’s the really good thing about bringing together AusBiotech with the IBS meeting as well is that we get both the industry pool and the academic knowledge coming together. And that’s one of the biggest challenges actually is as academics we tend to have that opportunity where we look at something and go here’s my perfect research, you really want it. And so we’re pushing research on people. Whereas if we have these conversations at things like BioFest, we can start to understand the industrial pull, and that’s really what it’s about. It’s about understanding challenges that are out there in the industry and helping to solve them.