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Tom Coenye Addresses Impact of Interspecies Interactions on Antibiotic Susceptibility of Biofilms

Tom Coenye Addresses Impact of Interspecies Interactions on Antibiotic Susceptibility of Biofilms | iBB | Scoop.it
Tom Coenye, a full professor at Ghent University, addressed the influence of interspecies interactions on antibiotic susceptibility of polymicrobial biofilms during thhe 2nd joint BIOTECnico and AEM PhD Programs workshop that took place at Instituto Superior Técnico on the 15th and 16th February. Tom Coenye participated in the workshop in his quality as a member of the External Advisory Committee of BIOTECnico.
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Marine Bioprospecting, Biocatalysis and Process Development

Marine Bioprospecting, Biocatalysis and Process Development | iBB | Scoop.it

Marine bacteria present enzymatic activities that result from extensive evolution necessary for cell survival under the harsh and continuously changing conditions found in the marine environment. Metagenomic techniques and cultivation of not-yet-cultured bacteria, combined with high-throughput screening techniques, have allowed the identification of new biocatalysts and the development of industrial processes. In a recently published paper, Carlos J.C. Rodrigues and Carla C.C.R. de Carvalho (iBB-2BRG) review the latest studies related to growth of marine bacteria under laboratorial conditions, screening techniques, and bioprocess development.

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Ana M Melo was nominated for the Management Committee of the COST Action ML4NGP

Ana M Melo was nominated for the Management Committee of the COST Action ML4NGP | iBB | Scoop.it

Ana M Melo participated as secondary proposer in the grant application of the COST Action: Non-globular proteins in the era of Machine Learning (ML4NGP). The action was recently funded and started in October 2022. Ana M Melo was selected to be part of the Management Committee and the first meeting already took place with decisions on the budget allocation/organization and future meetings. This COST-action is focused on non-globular proteins that comprise “intrinsically disordered regions, repeats, low-complexity sequences, aggregation-prone and phase-separating sequences, and are implicated in a range of age-related diseases”. The network combines both experimentalists and computational researchers. 

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More details in https://www.cost.eu/actions/CA21160/#tabs+Name:Description.

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Challenges of Science in Contemporary Society: Science Funding

Challenges of Science in Contemporary Society: Science Funding | iBB | Scoop.it

The video of a recent conference on the “Funding of Science”, included in the Cycle of Conferences – Challenges of Science in Contemporary Society, was published on the YouTube of Academia de Ciências de Lisboa. The session was chaired by Professor Isabel Sá-Correia from BSRG-iBB - Institute for Bioengineering and Biosciences . This theme touches deeply the scientific community. Undoubtedly, the scientific and technological development of a country, an institution, a research group requires, in addition to adequate and coherent policies, very costly investments, very significant and continuous funding. But, even if the funding of science is obviously critical, this is not limited to the funds that are made available, to the % of the Gross domestic product (GDP) that governments and private institutions dedicate to research and there is a lot of material for reflection.
The cycle of conferences dedicated to Science challenges in contemporary society is promoted by the Instituto de Alto Estudos of ACL. 

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Recreating Human Heart Development in the Lab

Recreating Human Heart Development in the Lab | iBB | Scoop.it

The embryonic development of the human heart under healthy and pathological conditions is still very poorly understood. In a recently published Nature Communications paper, a SCERG-iBB team led by Margarida Diogo, in collaboration with Perpetua Pinto do Ó at i3S, engineered a unique organ-like model from stem cells that recreates several stages of embryonic development of the human heart. This humanized model opens now the path to study, in a tissue engineering lab, the development of congenital heart diseases, such as coronary vascular diseases and myocardium non-compaction cardiomyopathies, and can be further applied in drug screening and toxicology assays during embryonic heart development. This last topic is particularly relevant since pregnant women normally do not take part in clinical trials, making this human cell-based in vitro platform the only viable alternative to assess developmental cardiotoxicity. The work was a part of the PhD thesis in Bioengineering – MIT Portugal program of Mariana Branco, the first author of the paper, and was funded by the FCT project “Mini-Hearts - Organoid Engineering for Production of 3D Cardiovascular Microtissues from Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells for Cardiotoxicity”.  

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Future antibiotics at IST

Future antibiotics at IST | iBB | Scoop.it

A pandemic can turn the world upside down. We recently had this hard experience, which made us reflect (a lot) on the importance of science and how it is the stronghold of our survival as a species (we have persisted for at least 200 thousand years!). Resistance to antibiotics and antifungals is nothing new and seems to have become commonplace (or despised). It is too serious a problem to be reassured, for several reasons. The evolution of multidrug resistance in bacteria and fungi (proven by genetic sequencing), associated with the disinvestment in new drugs by large pharmaceutical multinationals, converges in a (next) pandemic scenario of hypervirulent bacteria and fungi. Antimicrobial resistance is fundamentally based on the ability that bacteria and fungi have acquired to escape the action of available drugs, using mainly three strategies: enzymatic degradation of drugs, alteration of drug target proteins, and alteration of membrane permeability (expression of efflux pumps). Bearing in mind these strategies, a team of researchers from iBB-IST (led by Prof. Vasco Bonifácio) in collaboration with researchers from CQE-IST and ITQB-NOVA, designed, and produced antimicrobial polyurea pharmadendrimers, a new class of antibiotics and antifungals. These pharmadendrimers have excellent activity (in vitro and in vivo) against multidrug-resistant bacteria and fungi from clinical isolates collected in Portuguese hospitals and clinics. Their administration is safe as they have a very wide therapeutic window, in which they are not cytotoxic and do not cause hemolysis (the main problems of other analogues under investigation, such as antimicrobial peptides). On the other hand, its mechanism of action prevents the development of resistance, an almost impossible mission for bacteria and fungi because it requires a restructuring of their membrane. Antimicrobial pharmadendrimers have been patented, and an international patent application is pending. In an interview to the RTP TV channel, on the program “O Desafio do Superior em Portugal”, Dr. Rita Pires, a researcher on the team, talks about this invention (video). The research work was recently published in a high impact international journal.

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Electrically Conductive Hydrogels for Articular Cartilage Tissue Engineering

Electrically Conductive Hydrogels for Articular Cartilage Tissue Engineering | iBB | Scoop.it

As current treatment options for cartilage degeneration remain ineffective, tissue engineering has emerged as an exciting approach to create cartilage substitutes. In particular, hydrogels seem to be suitable candidates for this purpose due to their high biocompatibility and customizability, being able to be tailored to fit the biophysical properties of native cartilage. Moreover, these hydrogel matrices can be combined with conductive materials in order to simulate the natural electrochemical properties of articular cartilage. In this recent review published in the journal Gels, SCERG-iBB researchers Filipe Miguel (MSc student in Biotechnology), Frederico Barbosa (PhD student in Bioengineering), Prof. Frederico Ferreira and Dr. João Silva highlight the most common conductive materials combined with hydrogels and their diverse applications, and discuss the current state of research on the development of electrically conductive hydrogels for cartilage tissue engineering.

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Insights into genetic diversity and drug resistance based on large-scale genome sequence analysis

Insights into genetic diversity and drug resistance based on large-scale genome sequence analysis | iBB | Scoop.it

Genome sequencing is a powerful tool that contributes to the advancement of drug resistance studies, population dynamics and evolution in fungal pathogens. In a paper just published in Microbial Cell, emerging from a collaboration between Miguel Cacho Teixeira’s team (BSRG) and Hiroji Chibana, MMRC, Japan, the analysis of nearly 100 genomes of globally distributed C. glabrata isolates enabled the identification of new effectors of azole and echinocandin resistance. Their genomic landscape was further explored to evaluate genetic variants specific to each drug resistance profile. Interestingly, the data concludes that changes in the most studied drug resistance genes only occur in a fraction of the resistant isolates, an observation that is expected to contribute to design more suitable antifungal therapeutic strategies.

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Thinking of doing a PhD?

Thinking of doing a PhD? | iBB | Scoop.it

"la Caixa" Foundation's Doctoral INPhINIT Fellowships support talented researchers of the future like you!

iBB is hosting 10 PhD Incoming INPhINIT Fellowships in the field of Life Sciences.

For more information on how to apply for your fellowship go to https://fundacionlacaixa.org/en/inphinit-doctoral-fellowships-call and apply by 25 January 2023.

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Um visitante conspícuo e invulgar

Um visitante conspícuo e invulgar | iBB | Scoop.it

Na segunda-feira 31 de Outubro, o Complexo Interdisciplinar teve um visitante conspícuo e invulgar: uma equipa do Regimento de Sapadores Bombeiros de Lisboa, especializada em descontaminações químicas, que ali se deslocou em duas viaturas.

Felizmente, tal não se deveu a um acidente grave, mas apenas a descontaminação e recolha de resíduos de mercúrio, num laboratório que transitara do iBB para o CQE. Na remoção de lixo, os funcionários que procediam à recolha derramaram inadvertidamente, no chão do laboratório, algum mercúrio de uma antiga bomba de alto vácuo.

A intervenção durou cerca de 3 horas, terminando pelas 14:45.

Os bombeiros recomendaram que, em ocorrências deste tipo, não se coloque enxofre sobre o mercúrio, como é vulgar, o que dificulta muito a sua remoção por aspiração. Bastará fazer um anel de contenção com o enxofre, em volta da área de derrame.

É de louvar o desempenho do Regimento de Sapadores Bombeiros, pela rapidez, eficiência e profissionalismo, bem como o de todos os funcionários do IST e iBB (Mafalda Firmino) presentes.

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An insight on lipid nanoparticles for therapeutic proteins delivery

An insight on lipid nanoparticles for therapeutic proteins delivery | iBB | Scoop.it

Therapeutic proteins are bioactive compounds used for the treatment and prevention of several diseases, being usually well-tolerated and specific for their target. Nevertheless, they also present physicochemical instability, with susceptibility to suffer degradation. The use of lipid nanoparticles for therapeutic proteins encapsulation protects its structure, improving its bioavailability, and obtaining a sustained or controlled release. However, the loading of therapeutic proteins into lipid nanoparticles presents several challenges, so in a paper published in the  Journal of Drug Delivery Science and Technology, the researchers from BERG-IBB, Cláudia Viegas and Pedro Fonte addressed the challenges and advantages of loading therapeutic proteins into lipid nanoparticles. In the paper not only the different lipid structures, but also the protein encapsulation methods that do not compromise the structure and bioactivity of therapeutic proteins are discussed.

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SCERG-iBB hosts students from DIS Study abroad in Scandinavia program

SCERG-iBB hosts students from DIS Study abroad in Scandinavia program | iBB | Scoop.it

Last October 13th, SCERG-iBB hosted an enthusiastic group of 20 US students and two teachers from the DIS Study abroad in Scandinavia program (https://disabroad.org/dis/). DIS is a non-profit study abroad foundation established in Denmark in 1959, with locations in Copenhagen and Stockholm. DIS provides semester, academic year, and summer programs taught in English, and offers high-impact learning experiences for upper-division undergraduate students from distinguished North American colleges and universities. Throughout this morning, the students were acquainted about the different focus areas and research labs at SCERG-iBB and to visit the labs to observe hands-on experiments.   

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A new family of azole importers is uncovered by following the genomic evolution towards azole resistance in Candida glabrata

A new family of azole importers is uncovered by following the genomic evolution towards azole resistance in Candida glabrata | iBB | Scoop.it

Following the genomic alterations occurring in a cell population as it evolves towards drug resistance in C. glabrata is a promising way of identifying the drug resistance mechanisms that actually take place in the clinical setting. In a recent study, lead by Miguel Cacho Teixeira’s (BSRG-iBB) and Acácio Rodrigues’ (CINTESIS-FMUP) teams, together with Patrick Van Dijck (UCL, Louvain, Belgium), Hiroji Chibana (MMRC, Chiba Univ, Japan) and Cláudio Soares (ITQB-NOVA), the genomic changes underlying Posaconazole resistance acquisition in C. glabrata were evaluated. Based on the obtained results, the hexose transporters Hxt4/6/7 and Hxt6/7 were identified and determinants of azole susceptibility and proposed to act as azole importers. These results, recently published in Communications Biology, are believed to be just the tip of the iceberg, as many other hexose transporter family members may play similar roles in all fungal pathogens.

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Vasco Bonifácio participates in FIC.A 2022 with many creative experiments

Vasco Bonifácio participates in FIC.A 2022 with many creative experiments | iBB | Scoop.it

Vasco Bonifácio participated in the International Science Festival FIC.A 2022 from 10 to 16 of October 2022 (Hub-ACT, Oeiras). This was an invitation/collaboration with the Portuguese Association for Women in Science (Lucélia Pombeiro). Their proposed activities included: The Perfume Laboratory (demonstration of lavender essential oil hydrodistillation and explanation how perfumes are formulated), The Air We Live In (composition and importance of surrounding gases with emphasis on carbon dioxide – dry ice show), Black Ink Secrets (discovery of black inks formulations using chromatography – hands-on experiment). Vasco Bonifácio also assisted the Virtual Tour To The International Space Station (ISS), using the Oculus Quest VR glasses. This tour included the presentation of ISS, giving an overview of the importance of space research, and revealing some interesting facts about life in space.

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Bacterial contamination of coins

Bacterial contamination of coins | iBB | Scoop.it

Microbes are known to contaminate money. In the project CleanCoin, funded by INCM, Carla C.C.R. de Carvalho (iBB-2BRG), Telmo Santos (UNIDEMI, UNL) and Maria José Caramujo (cE3c, FCUL, UL), studied the bacterial population present at the surface of coins. In a recently published white paper, the research team and collaborators from INCM, present the results and compare the number of viable bacteria in coins with those found on other objects such as bank cards and mobile phones.

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MarineMetagenomeDB - curated and standardized metadata for marine metagenomes

MarineMetagenomeDB - curated and standardized metadata for marine metagenomes | iBB | Scoop.it

Metagenomics is an expanding field within microbiology and related disciplines. The number of metagenomes deposited in public databases is exponentially rising, but data mining and interpretation can be challenging due to mis-annotated metadata entries. The new Marine Metagenome Metadata Database (MarineMetagenomeDB) helps researchers to identify marine metagenomes of interest for re-analysis and meta-analysis and is a valuable resource for non-bioinformaticians to find marine metagenome samples with curated metadata. The study, published in Environmental Microbiome, was led by Dr Ulisses Nunes da Rocha and team from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (Germany), and counted on specialist guidance in marine metadata standardization from iBB/DBE PhD-student Sandra Silva and researchers Tina Keller-Costa and Rodrigo Costa. The user-friendly web app is publicly available at here.

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Workshop “Smart Valorization of Macroalgae for Food, Feed and Bioplastics“

Workshop “Smart Valorization of Macroalgae for Food, Feed and Bioplastics“ | iBB | Scoop.it

The workshop Smart Valorization of Macroalgae for Food, Feed and Bioplastics will take place in the framework of a national project “SMART SEAWEED“ funded by FUNDO AZUL. (DGPM). This workshop was co-organized by the iBB-IST team and the GreenCoLab – Associação Oceano Verde, and is scheduled on the 6 December between 14:00h -18:00h in room 02.2, Centro de Congressos of IST- Alameda. Please find the program in the flyer attached.  

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Invited keynote lecture on Sustainable Biomaterials by Prof. Vasco Bonifácio

Invited keynote lecture on Sustainable Biomaterials by Prof. Vasco Bonifácio | iBB | Scoop.it

Prof. Vasco Bonifácio, from the Bioengineering Department at IST, gave an invited keynote lecture in the American Advanced Materials Congress that took place in Miami (USA) from 29 October to 5 November 2022. The lecture “Sustainable Biomaterials” was focused on research developed by his research team in the last years at iBB-Institute for Bioengineering and Biosciences (IST), including recent achievements and ongoing research using nanobiomaterials. The lecture highlighted the importance of the development of new sustainable protocols for the synthesis and formulation of nanotherapeutics as well as its impact on the design and production of novel biomaterials for regenerative medicine. This research is full aligned with the green transition, a social change strategy that will allow us to turn the current environmentally unsustainable global situation into a new sustainable paradigm. Also, it takes in account the European Green Deal that aims to make Europe climate neutral by 2050 and boost the economy through green technology. In this congress, Prof. Vasco Bonifácio also chaired two scientific sessions.

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Mónica Galocha awarded the Best PhD Work in Research and Infectious Diseases by redeSAÚDE, ULisboa

Mónica Galocha awarded the Best PhD Work in Research and Infectious Diseases by redeSAÚDE, ULisboa | iBB | Scoop.it

Mónica Galocha was distinguished with the Best PhD Work in Research and Infectious Diseases by redeSAÚDE, University of Lisbon, at the 6th redeSAÚDE conference held at University of Lisboa on the 15th of November 2022. Mónica Galocha presented her research focused on unveiling new pathways of genomic evolution towards drug resistance in Candida glabrata, carried at iBB, under the supervision of Professor Miguel Cacho Teixeira.

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The newest release of YEASTRACT+ offers modeling tools to optimize yeast cell factories and identify new antifungal drug targets

The newest release of YEASTRACT+ offers modeling tools to optimize yeast cell factories and identify new antifungal drug targets | iBB | Scoop.it

The YEASTRACT+ information system is a wide-scope computational tool for the analysis and prediction of transcription regulatory associations at the gene and genomic levels in 11 yeast species of biotechnological or human health relevance. Its newest release, orchestrated by a large team led by Isabel Sá-Correia, Miguel Teixeira, from BSRG-iBB, and Pedro Monteiro, from INESC-ID, has just described in the 2023 Nucleic Acids Research Database Issue, highlighting the availability of new regulatory-metabolic network modeling tools. These tools are expected to contribute to guide YEASTRACT+ users in the optimization of yeast cell factories of industrial relevance and the identification of new antifungal drug targets, to be used in advanced antifungal therapy. YEASTRACT+ is currently supported within the context of the Biodata.pt/Elixir.pt Research Infrastructure.

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Professor Martin Hof gave the talk on protein hydration and dynamics during his visit to BSIRG-iBB

Professor Martin Hof gave the talk on protein hydration and dynamics during his visit to BSIRG-iBB | iBB | Scoop.it

Professor Martin Hof, director of the J. Heyrovský Institute of Physical Chemistry in Prague,  gave a talk on the topic "Protein hydration and dynamics seen by fluorescence: TDFS (Time-Dependent Fluorescence Shifts) and PET-FCS (Photo-induced Electron Transfer- Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy)” on November 4, 2022.

Professor Martin revisited some of the principles relevant for synthetic biology as well as the importance of TDFS and PET-FCS to study relaxation dynamics of polar solvents and to probe protein dynamics on short time scales, and their relevance for the elucidation of enzyme activity.

This talk was framed during Professor Martin´s scientific visit to the BSIRG.

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Microfluidic production of mRNA-loaded lipid nanoparticles for vaccine applications

Microfluidic production of mRNA-loaded lipid nanoparticles for vaccine applications | iBB | Scoop.it

During past years, lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) have emerged as promising carriers for RNA delivery, with several clinical trials focusing on both infectious diseases and cancer. More recently, the success of messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines for the treatment of severe diseases, such as acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), is partially justified by the development of LNPs encapsulating mRNA for efficient cytosolic delivery. In a collaborative work with researchers from Hovione Farmaciência SA and INESC-MN, Pedro Fonte from iBB-BERG published an invited review paper in Expert Opinion on Drug Delivery addressing the production and formulation of LNPs by using microfluidic devices, the status of mRNA-loaded LNPs therapeutics and explored spray drying process, as a promising dehydration process to enhance LNP stability and provide alternative administration routes. It is foreseen this work may contribute to advances in the field in the upcoming years.

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Multivalent NHS-activated acrylates for orthogonal site-selective functionalisation of peptides at cysteine residues paper included in the 2022 issue of Pioneering Investigators

Multivalent NHS-activated acrylates for orthogonal site-selective functionalisation of peptides at cysteine residues paper included in the 2022 issue of Pioneering Investigators | iBB | Scoop.it

In a recent study led by Pedro Gois´s team (Faculdade Farmácia da Universidade de Lisboa), with collaboration from researchers Hovione FarmaCiencia SA and BSIRG-@iBB (@ Sandra Pinto), a novel multivalent platform of NHS-activated acrylates was developed for the site-selective chemical appendage of multiple functionalities on native peptides. The results were published in Chem Commun and were included in the 2022 issue of Pioneering Investigators.

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Chitosan Nanoparticles: A Versatile Platform for Biomedical Applications

Chitosan Nanoparticles: A Versatile Platform for Biomedical Applications | iBB | Scoop.it

Chitosan is a biodegradable and biocompatible natural polymer approved by FDA as considered GRAS (Generally Recognised as Safe) for biomedical applications. In a joint Portugal-India collaboration led by Pedro Fonte, and collaboration of BERG-iBB Master student Ana Patrício, it was published in Materials journal an overview on chitosan‐based nanoparticles, focusing on their versatile features and different applications in biomedical sciences and engineering, including their potential for drug delivery and tissue engineering. In this work, several methods that have been developed to produce chitosan-based nanoparticles are fully disclosed. More importantly, the characterization and application of such delivery systems in different pathologies are addressed. It is foreseen that this contribution could be a guidance, on developing chitosan-based nanocarrier systems for different applications.

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Full text available here: 

https://www.mdpi.com/1996-1944/15/19/6521

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World’s Top Scientists

World’s Top Scientists | iBB | Scoop.it

Six researchers from @IBB have been ranked among the World’s Top 2% of most widely cited scientists in the 2022 List of outstanding researchers prepared by Elsevier BV, and Stanford University (USA).   

Carla Carvalho, Joaquim Cabral, Isabel Sá Correia,  Mário Berberan e Santos, Miguel Prazeres and Pedro Fonte were recognized for the impact throughout their careers, while Pedro Fernandes was recognized as one of the World’s Top 2%  influent scientist in his field.

The updated list is based on the Sep 01-2022 SCOPUS database, updated to the end of the citation year 2021 and analyses 22 scientific areas and 176 disciplines.

Overall, 93 researchers from Técnico were highlighted in the study.  Congratulations to all!

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The NPR/Hal family of kinases in S. cerevisiae and other yeasts

The NPR/Hal family of kinases in S. cerevisiae and other yeasts | iBB | Scoop.it

Protein kinases are essential as signal transductors for a proper cellular response to extracellular stimuli. A BSRG-iBB review paper, just published in Computational and Structural Biotechnology Journal gathers the available information regarding the NPR/Hal5 family of kinases in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and non-Saccharomyces species of clinical and biotechnological relevance. These kinases - for which information is scarce and scattered across scientific literature - are essential modulators of yeast nutrient availability responses and ion homeostasis. This publication has as first-author the PhD student Miguel Antunes of the IST PhD programme in Biotechnology and Biosciences and the FCT-DP BIOTECnico - and as a corresponding author his thesis supervisor, Professor Isabel Sá-Correia.

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