New membrane development agreement announced

The Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Melbourne has signed a research collaboration agreement with NuSep Holdings Limited (ASX:NSP) to develop new and improved hydrogel membranes that have greater biocompatibility and use cost effective large-scale manufacturing techniques.

Researchers within the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering developed the current polyacrylamide membranes used by NuSep and its spin-out, PrIME Biologics Pty Ltd. NuSep has been working on the new membrane for the past 12 months and has been successful in developing a product that has the potential to not only have greatly improved bio-compatibility, but also the ability to be applied to a wider variety of applications and to be scaled, with both lower raw material and processing costs.

The services that will be provided by the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering include:

  •  Characterisation of a NuSep’s new hydrogel membrane, which is to be used in the next generation of the current SpermSep device
  •  Refinements in the membrane’s chemical formulation to enable changes in the membrane pore size for new separations beyond SpermSep’s requirements.

Alison Coutts, Executive Chairman of NuSep and an alumna of The University of Melbourne’s Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department, said “We are excited to reinstate this collaboration, which led to the original development of NuSep’s core technology. The Chemical Engineering Department is renowned for its hydrogel membrane research. The development of the new membrane will advance NuSep’s SpermSep technology. Additionally, the further work to be undertaken with the University of Melbourne to prove up the technology could open up new means for NuSep to produce commercially attractive bio-separation products and there are also other possibilities for entirely new therapeutic applications.”

Professor Sandra Kentish, Head of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department and leader of the research team, said “Innovation is critical to Australia’s future. This partnership gives us a unique opportunity to become involved with a company that is at the forefront of manufacturing innovation. Our research team, which includes Professor Greg Qiao and Associate Professor Sally Gras, will work to both ensure that the new Nusep membrane can reach its commercial potential and to expand the use of this material to other applications.”