A MULTI-disciplinary approach at UWA between the Faculty of Life and Physical Sciences and Faculty of Natural Agricultural Sciences could lead to a new generation of medical dressings made from microbes.
Five years ago, Bioalloy, which operates from the Faculty of Natural Agricultural Sciences laboratories at UWA, produced a dress made from acetified wine.
It was the result of a collaboration between Bioalloy co-founder Mr Gary Cass and artist Ms Donna Franklin.
The pair introduced acetobacter bacteria (Gluconacetobacter xylinus) to vats of wine where it converted the alcohol to cellulose micro fibres.
"This microbial cellulose [produced] is chemically similar to cotton.
Therefore the garments are made from microbial cotton. It is formed on the surface of the wine, almost as if the bacteria are trying to form a raft to flow on the wine,” Mr Cass says.
“We have now perfected a culturing technique that will allow the bacteria to form a 3-dimensional garment that will be seamless.
It can also be formed to fit the wearer like a second skin.”
Research is underway to determine the feasibility of using the fermented fashion as medical bandages.
The microbial cellulose could be used as a sterile medical bandage.
The material would be able to keep wounds sterile from outside infections but still allow caregivers to see how the wound is healing under the dressing.
“One of the biggest advantages is that it doesn't need any adhesives; it covers the skin or wound so closely, as it shrinks it holds its own position on the body.”
“We have a student at UWA working on the material to scaffold liver cells to produce an artificial liver for outside the body.”
Further research in the Faculty of Life and Physical Sciences investigations are underway to determine whether the microbial cellulose can be used as a scaffold to grow organs.