Automation / Robotics in re-engineering manufacture of Faecal Microbiota for Transplantation

Australian Red Cross Lifeblood

About

Australian Red Cross Lifeblood is a not-for-profit organisation that is responsible for the nations blood supply. In addition, it plays a pivotal role in greater contribution to healthcare, with a role in Transplantation, Milk and more recently Microbiome.  

www.lifeblood.com.au

Project 

Lifeblood is embarking on stool (poo) donation for supply of gut microbiota to treat patients with recurrent Clostridium difficile.  Initially we will be supplying the faecal microbiota transplants for a clinical trial, with the facility (which is in Wellington Street, Perth) manufacturing low volumes of the material.  The initiative is acting very much like a start-up and most of the processes are undertaken manually, limiting the number of donations that can be processed.  Assuming the clinical trial is successful, the project will need to scale and introduce more automated methods for manufacture. Adding to the challenge is the need for the processing of donation to be completed in a manner that reduces risk of contamination from extrinsic micro-organisms, and cross contamination between donations.

This initiative will explore options to provide greater through-put, including;

  • Re-engineering the process and consumables (can we create a partial or fully closed system i.e. reduce risk of contamination and preserve viability of the intrinsic microbes?)

  • Explore opportunities for automation and / or robotics in manufacture of product. 

Proposed project activities include: 

  • Participate in reviewing current state, including end to end and individual process steps

  • Participate in design of solution with subject matter experts

  • Prepare a desktop analysis and report of various options, including advantages and disadvantages of each, and a recommendation on next steps

Skills 

  • Biomechanical engineering

  • Robotics / automation

  • Design thinking

  • 3D printing / materials science (possibility)

Mode

Mixture of online and face-to-face engagement

Upset Stomach