ICBAS - Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar

World Week for Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness

The contribution of universities to the awareness of antimicrobial resistance

From the 18th to the 24th of November, various initiatives were held at the Portuguese General Directorate of Food and Veterinary (DGAV) to mark the World Week for Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness.

Considering the topic chosen this year "Spread Awareness, Stop Resistance", DGAV collected some testimonies on video, from different personalities and professionals representing different perspectives on the impact of Antimicrobial Resistance on Public Health, Animal Health and the environment.

Professor João Niza Ribeiro, from the Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar (ICBAS), of the University of Porto, highlights, in this video, the contribution of Universities to the awareness of resistance to antimicrobials and to the application of good practices for the responsible use of antimicrobials, through the training of professionals in the area of animal production, as well as through collaboration with the authorities to develop and improve systems that allow the agricultural sectors to respond to the great challenge of reducing the use of these drugs.

Source: DGAV – Direção Geral de Alimentação e Veterinária


Innovative food strategies to promote dog health and well-being

In Europe, the population of companion animals has been increasing. In 2020, there were around 90 million dogs in 56 million households. In Portugal, around 38% of families had dogs as companion animals, with a total population of around 2 million animals. Thus, similarly to Europe, Portuguese households already have more pets than children, being these animals considered active elements of the family.

The growing humanization of companion animals has exacerbated the concern of tutors with food quality and safety, as well as with the impact of food on the well-being and health of animals. Indeed, tutors are increasingly looking for complete compound foods that ensure the satisfaction of nutritional needs and that, at the same time, have functional effects, especially in promoting health, well-being and longevity. Furthermore, the increase in the production of compound feed to face the increase in the animal population represents an environmental impact that cannot be neglected.

All these changes have contributed to the need to develop new food strategies, as well as to identify new ingredients that are more sustainable from an environmental, economic and social point of view and with functional qualities. The Animal Science Laboratory, at ICBAS, has developed several projects to find more sustainable food strategies that contribute to the promotion of health, well-being and longevity, both for puppies and adult dogs, towards to the societal challenge of One Health.

To know more:

Mineral composition of dry dog foods: impact on nutrition and potential toxicity

Effects of diet supplementation with sodium selenite and selenium-enriched in puppies’ health performance from post-weaning to adulthood

Effects of zinc source and enzyme addition on the fecal microbiota of dogs

Contact: Professor Ana Rita Cabrita (arcabrita@icbas.up.pt)


Cell-based Therapies and Medical Devices for Regenerative Medicine: from Veterinary Medicine to Men

The research group evidences a strong and reference activity aiming the Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering as critical areas of the Biomedicine and Biotechnology in a perspective of One Health. The main research projects are focused in tissue regeneration, associating innovate biomaterials to autologous/ allogenic/ xenogenic stem cells, from extra-fetal sources, like the umbilical cord blood and matrix, the bone marrow, the synovia membrane and dental pulp.

A successful demonstration is followed by the establishment of collaboration with biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries working as partners, for product development, protection of intellectual property, validation in different animal models, in a long time-scale trials and further, the future application in clinics. Excellent examples of specific programs with the Industry are: 1) Regeneration of neuromuscular tissue - an Integrative Approach; 2) Nanostructured hybrid hydrogels and synthetic bone substitutes: multifunctional injectable hydrogels for bone regeneration; 3) Development of molecular and cell-based therapies activities for Veterinary and Human Clinical Applications; 4) Pre-clinical and clinical trials of cell-based therapies and medical devices for Veterinary and Human Clinical Applications.

The multidisciplinary team, including Veterinaries, Engineers, Medical Doctors that through Experimental Surgery have a crucial role in the development of biomaterials/medical devices and cell-based therapies, allows a close share of knowledge between biomaterials design, development of cellular systems, and surgeons’ needs, with an extensive experience in advanced therapy medicinal product (ATMP) development in the bio-industry point of view, with a clear vision of what is required regulatory wise to achieve a translational final production for Animals and Humans.

Recognized scientific achievements include scientific publications, higher education and training and already 3 products in the market (cell-based therapies from dental pulp and Whärton’s jelly, and a synthetic bone substitute) and an international patent - Regenera, in the final stage of proof-of-concept for horses and companion animals.

To know more:

Application of Bonelike® as synthetic bone graft in orthopaedic and oral surgery in veterinary clinical cases

Mesenchymal Stem/ Stromal Cells metabolomic and bioactive factors profiles: A comparative analysis on the umbilical cord and dental pulp derived Stem/ Stromal Cells secretome

Contact: Professor Ana Colette Maurício (acmauricio@icbas.up.pt)


Welfare, quality and safety of fish

Seafood is one of the food groups whose consumption is most encouraged by current nutritionists, as a result of its recognized benefits to human health. As a food of the future, in addition to sustainability, it is important to improve the methods for evaluating its quality and food safety.

The ongoing research at the Laboratory of Fish Technology of the Department of Aquatic Production of ICBAS focuses mainly on the development of new sensory, chemical and microbiological methods to assess the freshness of fish and identify its origin and authenticity. Measures to assess and improve animal welfare in aquaculture and the management and use of waste from their production are also research areas.

In sensory analysis, new tables under the 'Quality Index Method' have been created, for several aquatic species with relevance in Portugal.

In the area of chemistry, work was carried out for the nutritional and toxicological characterization (16 different elements) of species at the top of the food chain, presumably more problematic.

In microbiology, studies have been made to characterize the fish microflora, as well as the development of new microbiological techniques for characterization and identification of the origin of aquaculture species.

Waste management studies have been focused on the identification of sources, characterization of waste and its use as ingredient in feeds for animals, especially from aquaculture.

The work has also included the characterization of animal welfare in aquaculture fish, especially slaughter methods and improvement of their efficiency.

In the area of certification, a list of international systems for the certification of aquatic products and the main products was made, and technical support has been given to seafood companies in the creation of this type of systems for Portuguese products.

A balanced and healthy environment will support the growth of healthy aquatic beings, which will be adequate food items, providing health to animals and humans, confirming the modern vision of One Health we all want for our future world.

To know more:

Quality Index Method for fish quality control: understanding the applications, the appointed limits and the upcoming trends

Multi-elemental composition of white and dark muscles in swordfish

Contact: Professor Paulo Vaz-Pires (vazpires@icbas.up.pt)


The ecology of antimicrobial resistance

Microbiology has made a decisive contribution to the development of the One Health, particularly when combined with advanced microbial genomic tools. Through them, we can investigate outbreaks (e.g. Salmonella spp., Campylobacter jejuni), monitor variants of pathogenic microorganisms or understand the global circulation of bacteria and resistance genes between the human, animal and environmental biome. In fact, the bacterial species that we are most concerned about in terms of resistance (ESKAPE*) share three characteristics: (i) can colonize more than one animal species, (ii) behave mostly like commensal (e.g., are able to colonize the intestine or skin of humans and animals without causing any disease), and (iii) have a remarkable eco-resistance, being able to survive on inert surfaces, in soil or in water for a long time. Therefore, they are able to “travel” between different hosts, demonstrating that without a holistic view we will not be able to contain them.

Under this perspective, the microLAB Laboratory of the Aquatic Production Department of ICBAS – in collaboration with companies, institutions and other research groups – has been studying:

1. The presence of multi-resistant Enterobacteriaceae in different animal populations (chickens, gulls, birds of prey, wolves, bivalves, sea urchins, rabbits, dogs and cats), in humans (pet owners) and in the environment (stations of wastewater treatment, rivers, beaches, lakes and city fountains);

2. The antibacterial activity of hundreds of chemical compounds isolated in cyanobacteria and marine fungi or modified/generated by chemical synthesis processes, provided by collaborating research groups;

3. The phylogenetic proximity between bacteria isolated from humans and bacteria obtained from trains and buses (Staphylococcus aureus resistant to methicillin-MRSA) or in chickens and dogs (Campylobacter jejuni).

*Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Enterobacter spp.

To know more:

Neofiscalin A and fiscalin C are potential novel indole alkaloid alternatives for the treatment of multidrug resistant Gram-positive bacterial infections

Campylobacter jejuni in Different Canine Populations: Characteristics and Zoonotic Potential

Antimicrobial Activity of a Library of Thioxanthones and Their Potential as Efflux Pump Inhibitors

Contact: Professor Paulo Martins da Costa (pmcosta@icbas.up.pt)


ICBAS joined investigation of the city of Porto on behalf of One Health

A diverse panel of experts from human, animal and environmental health got together, last November 3rd (International One Health Day), to discuss the One Health approach. The stage was the “1st Porto One Health Day”, organized by the Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar (ICBAS) of the University of Porto in collaboration with different research units of the city (CECA, CIIMAR, CIBIO-InBIO, CI-IPOP, FCUP, ISPUP, i3S, REQUIMTE, UMIB).

The One Health approach recognizes the connection between people, animals, plants and the environment, and aims to provide a scientific and technical response that makes it possible to prevent, detect, contain, eliminate and respond to public health threats caused by agents and events hazardous to human and animal health.

Foi sob esta perspetiva que se focaram as nove sessões do 1st Porto One Health Day, versando sobre vários temas que concentram em si uma visão holística da saúde: segurança alimentar, alterações climáticas, interação entre humanos e animais, resistência a antibióticos, impacto dos oceanos na saúde humana, impacto da pandemia nos doentes com cancro, HIV e doenças emergentes.

This was a truly transdisciplinary meeting where an increasingly current issue was discussed. The objective of the organizing committee was fulfilled: "to bring together the main Research Units of Porto to discuss health problems together from the One Health perspective, with the purpose of identifying real solutions and potential partnerships".

One Health or the “way” to “restore our planet”

The event was attended by the co-founder of the One Health Initiative, the American Laura H. Kahn. “One Health analysis of food safety and security, antimicrobial Resistance, and Climate Change in the 21st Century” was the title of the presentation which demonstrated the transversality and applicability of this concept.

“We urgently need to restore our planet. The One Health concept, which recognizes that life on Earth is interconnected, must be the way. For this, we must educate the new generations. One Health must be the basis not only for scientific research, but also for the development of policies, education and literacy”, highlighted the physician and researcher in health policies.

The director of ICBAS, Henrique Cyrne Carvalho, closed the event with the certainty that “the second step of this long journey that we are now starting will be the realization of consensus reflections on the discussed topics, which will allow us to reach decision makers, who are still unaware of the importance of the alert that we are now evoking.”

“Health deserves our extreme care, because it is the genesis of balance and sustainability. We are not going to stop as long as we feel that, albeit tenuously, we are working to find that balance”, concluded the director.

A local but international event

The event was hybrid, with all the presentations being performed in person and also broadcast online. The conference was recognized and shared by the international initiative One Health Day, receiving more than 300 registrations online. In these entries, a total of 83 institutions were represented, of which 69 Portuguese and 17 foreign. The event had participants from Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, Spain, United States, Ethiopia, Finland, Italy, Ireland, Norway, United Kingdom and Sweden, which reinforces the interest, scope and relevance of the One Health concept at an international level.

Text: Begoña Pérez Cabezas (Adapted from ‘Notícias da Universidade do Porto’)

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