Neo-Bionica lab opens at St Vincent’s

Neo-Bionica engineer in the workshop. Image Alchemy Construction

Neo-Bionica engineer in the workshop. Image: Alchemy Construct

A new state-of-the art manufacturing facility that creates medical devices for clinical trials has opened at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne.

A joint initiative of the Bionics Institute and University of Melbourne, the new Neo Bionica laboratory is equipped with the latest technology to make implants for human trials.

Bionics Institute CEO Robert Klupacs says Neo-Bionica will significantly speed up the time it takes to develop and trial a medical device, which means patients will benefit from the technology far earlier.

Overcoming hurdles

The new facility, which is embedded within St Vincent’s Hospital’s Fitzroy campus, will also help address the shortage of suitable medical device and manufacturing facilities in Australia.

When researchers at the Bionics Institute and collaborators invented a medical device to help treat inflammatory bowel disease, the project was slowed down when it came to manufacturing a prototype.

“To create the prototype device for use in future clinical trials, we had to contract a company in America, resulting in an 18-month delay,” says Mr Klupacs.

Neo-Bionica will not only help speed up this stage of medical discovery but also opens up greater opportunity to manufacture device prototypes for organisations around the world.

Taking a collaborative approach

Several devices currently under development at the Bionics Institute will be prototyped at Neo-Bionica, including a potential treatment for type 2 diabetes where the project collaborators include University of Melbourne Professor Richard MacIsaac, Director of Endocrinology at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne.

“I am excited to be collaborating with this team to develop a nerve stimulation treatment that amplifies natural processes in the body as an additional treatment to help patients control their blood sugar level,” says Professor MacIsaac.

“I look forward to seeing a clinical trial prototype manufactured in Neo-Bionica in the future.”

The Bionics Institute, The University of Melbourne and St Vincent’s are partners in ACMD – Australia’s first collaborative, hospital-based biomedical engineering research centre.

“Neo-Bionica is a bold initiative of two our ACMD partners and presents a whole new way of encouraging our brightest minds to tackle the biggest health challenges,” says Dr Erol Harvey, CEO of ACMD. “It’s something that strongly aligns with our vision at ACMD, which is to create a vibrant medtech ecosystem with active engagement of scientists, engineers and clinicians.”

Learn more about this great move from ACMD partners which featured on 9 News.