The use of mother of pearl shell by a new Western Australian biotech company could revolutionise the global medical sector.
Marine Biomedical was established through a partnership between the owners of Willie Creek Pearls and leading researchers from The University of Western Australia’s medical school, with support from another ASX listed established biotech company.
Marine Biomedical is Australia’s first biomedical company focusing on developing medical products sourced from some of Australia’s most pristine marine environments, including the Kimberley Coast in northern Western Australia.
Its patented debut technology, PearlBoneTM, is a bone substitute material derived from nacre (commonly known as mother of pearl), which is sourced from sustainably certified Western Australian Pinctada maxima (silver-lipped) pearl oysters.
The University of Western Australia Winthrop Professor of Orthopaedic Research and Perron Institute Head of Bone and Brain Research, Professor Minghao Zheng, is a founding partner of Marine Biomedical and co-inventor of PearlBoneTM, and has devoted many years to the development of this ground-breaking medical technology, with initial application in orthopaedic, trauma and reconstructive surgery.
Marine Biomedical is also exploring additional commercial applications for PearlBoneTM, and the potential contribution of other marine-based organisms to the biomedical industry.
Marine Biomedical has identified that Willie Creek Pearls’ commercial pearling division has the capability to provide access to premium quality mother of pearl shells necessary to comply with the stringent regulatory standards required to achieve the advancement of technology, and ongoing development, of PearlBoneTM.
‘’Willie Creek Pearls’ Broome based operations and their assets such as the aquaculture facilities at Willie Creek Pearl Farm, together with its proximity to the Indian Ocean, will be of significant benefit to our company," said Patrick Moase, Chief Executive Officer of Marine Biomedical.
Willie Creek Pearls is a family owned business operating across multiple sectors including tourism, retail, commercial pearling, and hospitality.
Having significantly invested in Broome and the it's community for well over 30 years, this progressive business sees the opportunity that innovative concepts and creative partnerships like PearlBoneTM have to offer both the industry and local economy.
"We are excited to be participating in this unique opportunity. This will not divert us from growing some of Australia's finest pearls and will serve to enhance it as it will our multi–award winning tourism products where we educate, entertain and engage with thousands of visitors each year unveiling the history, mystery and stories of the pearling industry, from shell to showroom, and now beyond,” said Paul Birch, Willie Creek Pearls General Manager of Commercial Operations and Pearling Master.
At the pearl farm north of Broome, Willie Creek Pearls’ meticulous husbandry practices are once again reaping the rewards.
This year’s harvest has once again been outstanding and includes a lustrous round pearl, which was harvested during a tour and measures an impressive 20.12mm. Valued at over $150,000, it is fitting that such an impressive gem has been named The Don Pearl, after the family's late father and husband, Don Banfield.
Willie Creek Pearls’ owner and Marine Biomedical partner, Robert Banfield said he welcomed the opportunity to expand Broome’s internationally renowned pearling industry.
“Modern pearl farming has tended to view mother of pearl as a by-product, but this opportunity to develop PearlBoneTM from this incredible source material shines a light on a new opportunity for the whole pearl farming industry," said Mr Banfield.
“For Willie Creek Pearls to be involved in the advancement of products that could make a significant difference to the health and wellbeing of so many is very exciting.”