Pearl-to-bone project by Marine Biomedical hopes to inspire northern Australia tech boom

The head of the Kimberley Development Commission hopes the WA government’s backing of a project which plans to make artificial bones out of pearl shells could lead to other high-tech industries operating out of northern Australia.

Biotech company Marine Biomedical is also looking at developing a synthetic bone substitute from marine resources such as nacre, commonly known as mother-of-pearl, a by-product of Broome’s pearling industry.

It is also in the early stages of developing a pearl-based toothpaste.

“While the pearl shell is usually sent overseas and sold to overseas markets for various different things such as watch faces, paints and ornaments, we see it as more important for it to remain in Australia to be converted to various different orthopaedic devices.”

A man sits in front of a microscope and holds a bone in front of him
Marine Biomedical CEO Patrick Moase says the company is edging closer to production.(ABC Kimberley: Jessica Hayes)

Mr Moase said the company had completed its prototype for manufacturing bones out of the raw material and was close to finalising plans for its raw materials processing lab in the Kimberley.

He said a $200,000 state grant would enable the company to establish the quality control and raw materials processing laboratory to begin seeking regulatory approvals which could take several years.

Pearl bone could open door to northern Australia tech

Kimberley Development Commission CEO Chuck Berger said he hoped more companies engaged in high level research and development would follow Marine Biomedical’s lead and position their operations in the north.

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