ICBAS - Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar

1st Porto One Health Day

International One Health Day at ICBAS

November 3rd, 2021

Talks about One Health organized by ICBAS and different Research Units of the University of Porto, with the participation of Dr. Laura H. Kahn (Co-founder of the One Health Initiative One Health Initiative).

Todas as palestras foram realizadas em formato presencial e on-line. Check the full program. 

Read the interview that we performed to Dr. Laura H. Kahn.

See the videos of the talks.


Mostra UP 2021

27 – 29 Maio 2021

Talking about One Health with ICBAS Professors

27.05.2021 | Climate change and pandemics

  • Ana Machado, Docente Convidada, Investigadora Principal do Projeto BeachSafe
  • João Mesquita, Professor Auxiliar, Investigador em Epidemiologia de Doenças Transmissíveis
  • Maria José Bento, Professora Associada Convidada, Diretora do Serviço de Epidemiologia do I.P.O.- Porto


  • Adriano A. Bordalo e Sá, Professor Associado, Diretor do Departamento de Estudos de Populações do ICBAS

28.05.2021 | One Health, one oncology: How can the study of cancer in animals prevent cancer in humans?

  • Kátia Pinello, Professora Afiliada, Investigadora e Coordenadora do projeto Vet-OncoNet
  • Andreia Santos, Professora Auxiliar, Investigadora em Oncologia veterinária
  • Rui Henrique, Professor Catedrático Convidado, Investigador em Epigenética e Biologia do Cancro, Presidente do I.P.O.- Porto
  • Maria José Oliveira, Professora Associada Convidada, Investigadora em Imunologia Tumoral


  • João Niza Ribeiro, Professor Auxiliar, Epidemiologia e Saúde pública veterinária

29.05.2021 | How can we prevent the onset of diseases through our lifestyle habits

  • Alberto Caldas Afonso, Professor Catedrático Convidado, Médico Pediatra e Diretor do Centro Materno-Infantil do Norte – Centro Hospitalar Universitário do Porto – Hospital de Santo António
  • Conceição Bacelar, Professora Auxiliar Convidada, Médica endocrinologista no Centro Hospitalar Universitário do Porto – Hospital de Santo António, Coordenadora regional do Programa Nacional da Diabetes
  • Carlos Vasconcelos, Professor Catedrático Convidado, Médico Internista, Co-Fundador e Ex-Diretor da Unidade de Imunologia Clínica do Centro Hospitalar Universitário do Porto – Hospital de Santo António


  • Mariana P. Monteiro, Professora Associada, Médica endocrinologista, Investigadora e Coordenadora da Unidade Multidisciplinar de Investigação Biomédica (UMIB) do ICBAS


European Public Health Week (EUPHW)

20 Maio 2021

Contribution of Veterinary Medicine to Health - One Health

This webinar, organized by the Public Health Institute of the University of Porto (ISPUP), within the scope of the European Public Health Week (17 to 21 May 2021), focused on the contribution of Veterinary Medicine to Health – One Health.

Hepatitis E, veterinary prescription of antimicrobials and the importance of cancer surveillance in companion animals were the topics covered in this webinar.

Moderated by ISPUP researcher and ICBAS Professor, João Niza Ribeiro, the webinar also featured interventions by João Rodrigo Mesquita, Gisélia Alcântara and Kátia Pinello, from the Research Unit in Epidemiology (EPIUnit) of ISPUP and ICBAS.


Aquaculture made in Portugal brings together a national consortium in turbot and sea bass production

A consortium of national entities together in the “OmegaPeixe” project to produce turbot and sea bass, two of the most relevant species in southern Europe, in an optimized and environmentally sustainable way and for increasing the consumption of omega-3s.

“This is the first time that the national production of fish enriched with omega-3s has been invested. The goal is threefold: to respond to the high demand for foods rich in this nutrient, with proven benefits for human health, including a strong anti-inflammatory action to prevent cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes, and depressive states; to respect animal welfare and the environment and, at the same time, to encourage sustainable aquaculture made in Potugal”, says Renata Serradeiro, CEO of Acuinova

"Our goal is to provide the consumer with a differentiated fish, with high nutritional value, in particular with a high content of long-chain omega-3s (EPA and DHA), produced sustainably using a careful selection of ingredients at an affordable price”, said the same source.

“One of the objectives of the project is to make high quality fish available to consumers, without significantly increasing the sale price” explains Helena Abreu, founder and General Director of ALGAplus, the consortium includes the company ALGAplus, operating in the area of integrated aquaculture, which will be responsible for the production of organic sea bass.

In addition to Acuinova and ALGAplus, the Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar (ICBAS), from the University of Porto (UP), with international competences in Aquaculture, and the Collaborative Laboratory for the Blue Bioeconomy (CoLAB B2E), one of the 26 national collaborative laboratories created by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education, participate in the project. To carry out the project, the consortium has the support of Riasearch and Sparos, companies specialized in Research and Development in aquaculture.

“National and European aquaculture is an exemplary response when it comes to food safety, quality, freshness, animal welfare and legislation. It should be noted that the use of hormones and antibiotics to promote animal growth has been banned in the EU for two decades, and has never been current practice in European aquaculture”, reinforces Elisabete Matos, Technical-Scientific Coordinator of CoLAB B2E.

For Elisabete Matos, “the future is about finding solutions adapted to the environment, animals, and market demand and needs: a transversal sustainability”, she predicts.

ICBAS will be responsible for evaluating the impact of finishing diets, directed to the phase prior to fishing, on the nutritional profile of each species under study. “These diets will be optimized for each of the species, using mathematical models and the intelligent FEEDNETICS program, developed in Portugal in a previous R&D project by Sparos, to select the ingredients with the greatest functional potential and economic sustainability. In the end, specific feeding protocols will be proposed for turbot and sea bass”, says researcher Luísa Valente.

Currently, the economy of the sea is growing at twice the rate of the national economy. According to the Sea Satellite Account, developed by the Directorate-General for Maritime Policies and by INE, between 2016 and 2018 the blue sector rose 18.5% in Gross Value Added (GVA) and 8.3% in employment. The national economy grew 9.6% in GVA and 3.4% in employment.

The fishing, aquaculture, processing, and respective marketing sector is responsible for 25.1% of this GVA and for the creation of more than 60 thousand jobs. It is estimated that, in 2018, the direct and indirect impact of the economy of the sea on the national economy will have translated into 5.4% of the GVA and 5.1% of the Gross Domestic Product. All this economic impact is achieved with very reduced environmental impacts when compared to other economic activities.

The “OmegaPeixe” project will have a total investment of around one million euros, of which almost 666,000 euros will be supported by Portugal 2020 and by the European Structural and Investment Funds of the European Union, through the Research and Development Incentive System Technological. The works will take place over two and a half years.

Fonte: SAPO Lifestyle


River beaches do not meet standards

Local authorities do not accept bad results. 

The University of Porto claims that the river beaches of Gaia and Gondomar do not meet water quality parameters. Local authorities, however, argue that the analyzes say the opposite. 

Bathers seem to feel a kind of false security on a beach that is equipped and supervised, but that is not even considered by the Portuguese Environment Agency as a river beach due to the history of poor results in water quality.

Source: SIC Notícias


Researchers detect pathogenic bacteria on northern beaches

Researchers of ICBAS, in Porto, have detected pathogenic bacteria, some even resistant to antibiotics, in the waters of bathing beaches in the North of the country, which they believe are driven by climate change.

In a publication on the website of the University of Porto, the ICBAS communication office states that the results were obtained within the scope of the BeachSafe project, which studies the presence of microbial agents in 10 beaches in the North of Portugal: Afife, Ofir, Póvoa do Varzim, Árvore, Matosinhos, Salgueiros, Aguda, Paramos, Cortegaça e São Jacinto.

According to ICBAS, climate change, namely the increase in temperature, variations in salinity and concentration of particles in the water, "seem to be responsible" for the spread of these bacteria, which represent "an unaccounted risk for public health", given that the official assessment is based on faecal indicators.

"The number of infections related to bathing water throughout the world, including in Europe, has been growing in recent years", says the Institute of the University of Porto, adding that most cases are associated with "indigenous bacteria" and “enteric viruses”.

“Most of the cases are associated with autochthonous bacteria that find favorable conditions to spread,due to climate change, or enteric viruses, as a result of the discharge of raw or poorly treated wastewater”, explains ICBAS.

The BeachSafe project, led by researchers from the ICBAS Laboratory of Hydrobiology and Ecology, is co-financed by the COMPETE2020 program, Portugal 2020, by the European Union through the FEDER and by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT).

Source: Jornal de Notícias
Photography: Paulo Novais (Lusa)


Pandemics: Is this just the beginning?

Most infectious diseases are of animal origin. Pathogens go around the world in a human body very quickly. The debate is open. What do we eat? How do we treat ecosystems and wild reserves? How to understand that the health of animals is the health of humans? Where does globalization lead us?

It's a complex matter with many angles. But with one certainty: almost 70% of the infectious diseases that have hit man in recent decades are of animal origin. And there will be an estimated 1.7 million viruses to be discovered in wildlife. The problem won't be so much what's inside the animals. The question is what humanity does or does not do since disease is and always will be a threat. Science studies and produces knowledge. Health makes the guts heart to deal with what comes to hand. The veterinarian controls and monitors. Political power decides.

Realities and behaviors come back to the discussion. Animals infect men. Animals are closer to each other. Humans are closer to animals through deforestation. Wild animals have less space and seek new destinations and ways to survive. Viruses take advantage of human vulnerabilities. Natural habitats have been attacked. An unbalanced food system affects health. Agricultural land climbs land. Livestock production continues to grow. In China, the wildlife business involves 12 million people and €65 billion a year. The world population has doubled and lives concentrated in cities. The global world is a highway traveling at the speed of light.

The dice are posted. A pathogen that has passed from an animal to a human travels many kilometers in a few hours. And the World is, at this moment, turned inside out. The most recent coronavirus, the seventh, was reportedly transmitted by a species of bat at a wildlife market in Wuhan, China. It is still unclear whether, in the current pandemic, there was a pangolin, a small wild mammal, as an intermediary in the mutation of an unknown virus and its transmission to the human species. It is known, however, that the coronavirus does not need an animal to survive.

Examples abound. In 2002, the SARS coronavirus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome. Ten years later, MERS-CoV was blamed for the Middle East respiratory syndrome. In both cases, the likely original host was a bat. And it's a bat that is also pointed out as the Ebola's natural reservoir. Bird flu, caused by a highly aggressive strain of a virus, comes from infected birds, alive or dead. The influenza virus has moved from birds to pigs and to humans. A mouse living in Africa spread Lassa fever across Nigeria, Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, and even flew to the United States and the United Kingdom. Malaria is an infectious disease transmitted by mosquitoes. Leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease, is also transmitted by the bite of a mosquito. Mad cow disease, or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, attacks domestic cattle and is transmissible to humans. HIV migrated to humans and originated in wild chimpanzees.

Animals have transmitted diseases to humans since the beginning. Point. Bats, primates and rodents are referred to as the wild animals that transmit the most viruses to mankind. And viruses have an extraordinary adaptability, waiting for an opportunity to enter human cells and wreak havoc. There have always been risks, there will always be risks, the impact is that it can be milder or more violent on human health. The current pandemic has put the world at home and has already killed nearly 200,000 people.

How do viruses, bacteria and parasites get out of animals and infect man? In many ways. “By contact, by inhalation, by food, among other possibilities”, answers Manuel Vilanova, immunologist, professor at ICBAS – Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar, University of Porto. Nobody has the gift of guessing when a virus leaves an animal, how it mutates, when and how it will attack man. "We cannot predict, we can react, and the problem has to be tackled on several fronts, pharmacological, immunological, and all of this takes time." In any case, the medical and scientific community worldwide has never been so focused and united in trying to find a solution to the current pandemic.

Killing animals is not even considered. "It is necessary to be careful how animal products are made available and how hygiene and food safety rules are organized." One thing is certain: the health of animals affects the health of humans. "No doubt. It is a lesson that everyone should never forget and that has now been put in a very clear way”, emphasizes Manuel Vilanova.

The percentage came from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) with the warning that one cannot continue idly: about 70% of the new diseases that infect man have animal origin. The report is from 2013, it's the latest in the matter, and it's still up to date. The United Nations food agency then called for an integrated, global intervention to manage health threats. Trying to anticipate rather than react.

Human health, animal health and ecosystem health cannot be seen separately. It is necessary to reflect health together and without borders, to structure ideas, identify problems, make recommendations, create an action plan, commit and hold political power accountable. “There must be respect for knowledge and science”, says Henrique Cyrne de Carvalho, director of ICBAS, doctorate in Medicine, Portuguese representative at One Health – World Health Organization, a European group working on the fusion of human and veterinary health organizations, that moves in this axis of human, animal, environmental health. The intervention, in his opinion, must be carried out upstream as much as possible and the information produced consistently and without any doubts must be on the decision-maker's table. It cannot be otherwise. “We are frankly exposed to infections that decimate populations in frightening numbers, be it bacteria, viruses, parasites,” he notes. “And we must have the humility to recognize that the world is not prepared for situations of this nature”, he adds.

The world is global, extremely urbanized, the countryside is a distant place, wildlife is a remote image. João Niza Ribeiro, veterinarian, doctorate in Veterinary Sciences, professor at ICBAS, member of One Health, puts all these points in the conversation. “What happens is that highly infectious diseases have globalized, become widespread. This type of situation is linked to urbanization.” Cities full of people, unusual population densities. People get infected, they infect others, and then you realize what's happening. Meanwhile, he says, "pathogens make their way."

Didier Cabanes, PhD in Molecular Biology, leader of the research group in Molecular Microbiology at i3S – Institute for Research and Innovation in Health of the University of Porto, has opinions, has no solutions. “What is happening is the result of our way of living 50 years ago. We are always reducing the space reserved for wild animals and many of these viruses, which are not known, come from wild animals.” The closer they are, the more exposed. And diseases have their particularities, their originalities. “Viruses have an enormous capacity to modify the genome in order to adapt, they find a way to infect humans, and this is nothing new”, he points out. The point is that history repeats itself over and over and sometimes leaves the World to its knees.

What arrives at the table is extremely important. Francisco Sarmento, former FAO representative in Portugal, with 30 years of international experience in food systems, brings together several elements. “The pandemic most likely comes from food pandemonium. The way we industrialized agriculture and globalized food in recent decades means that we are killing the planet and, consequently, ourselves. We destroy biodiversity and eliminate protective organisms to produce more calories and not more nutrients”, he stresses. Those most exposed to viruses that "jump" from animals, which cause pandemics, generally end up being the ones that carry the most a history of diseases and complications. “We are more vulnerable to overweight, obesity, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, among other pathologies that are becoming chronic. And we are going to die more and more quickly from a set of other diseases if we don't change the food system and its relationship with ecosystems. It changes with political will, social participation and science. The biggest enemy, as always, is ignorance.”

The movement of animals and people also explains the transmission of diseases. The number of travelers per year is in the order of billions. “The models for moving animals for consumption are highly regulated in Europe and the United States, much more than the movement of people is regulated”, observes Henrique Cyrne de Carvalho. The mobility of animals is a movement that is more organized and easier to control. The human one is not designed to prevent exposure to pathogens. “This is an enormously complex model that involves non-controllable variables”, comments the director of ICBAS.

Animal health is also human health and, in any case, the veterinary structures have tight control mechanisms for the surveillance and monitoring of animals for human consumption, from the feed they eat to commercialization in markets. “We cannot predict everything, we have structures capable of preventing and with the capacity to react”, guarantees João Niza Ribeiro. The issue is the means available, he points out, noting that the annual budget of the largest hospitals in the country is four to five times greater than the entire veterinary structure in the country.

Men, animals, ecosystems. Everything is articulated in this triangle where each vertex has the utmost importance. “We cannot put nature in a little glass box. We have to respect nature”, says João Niza Ribeiro. Didier Cabanes has no doubts. "This problem will happen more often and nobody really prepared, the health systems were not prepared." Changing the way of life, ways of consuming, giving more space to wildlife? It's all open. “We have to prepare for the next time because it will happen. We cannot stop the economy for two years. That's not possible." Predicting is an impossibility, reacting is not enough, it is then necessary to define plans and articulate strategies to protect health. Of animals and humans.

Source: Notícias Magazine
Text: Sara Dias Oliveira


Portugal is going to have a record of animals with cancer

The platform will allow understanding the frequency and distribution of these tumors across the country.

Com a plataforma ‘Vet-OncoNet‘ nasce o registo nacional para animais com cancro. Dois institutos da Universidade do Porto lançam esta plataforma que, ao “compilar informação sobre o registo oncológico” de animais de estimação, vai permitir estudar frequência, predominância e fatores de risco associados à doença em Portugal.

João Niza Ribeiro, coordinator of the platform, explained that it arose from the “need to have as systematic a record as possible of animal oncology”, namely, of pets.

“We want this structure to collect data produced in laboratories, clinics and veterinary hospitals so that they can be systematized”, he said.

Developed by the Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar (ICBAS) and by the Public Health Institute of the University of Porto (ISPUP), the platform will thus allow an understanding of the frequency and distribution of these tumors across the country.

"This structure will make it possible to know the number of cancers in the national territory, in which species is more prevalent, if it is increasing and if it is more focused on urban or rural areas", exemplified João Niza Ribeiro, member of the board of ISPUP and professor at ICBAS.

In addition to helping to understand the predominance, the platform, which was developed under the 'One Health' concept, will also make it possible to "study risk factors associated" with the disease, but also with human and environmental health.

“We think that part of the factors that lead to the appearance of cancer are environmental, and these environmental factors have an influence on both animals and humans. There is always interest, when studying the overlapping of areas, to realize that there may be common factors there and that, in the end, animals can serve as sentinels”, said the researcher.

This platform will be able to access veterinarians, animal owners and veterinary diagnostic laboratories, each of which will have its own space on the website to submit the information collected.

To Lusa, João Niza Ribeiro added that, later, the platform could also, “with another purpose”, try to compile data on farm animals

“Nós temos um serviço de inspeção sanitária das carnes, que identifica e retira do consumo numa fase muito precoce todos os animais que não estejam saudáveis. Mas, o que não há, é uma sistematização desse registo, ou melhor, está sistematizado, mas não é tratado. Essa é uma das linhas potenciais que nós temos, isto é, podermos vir a estabelecer algum acordo com a Direção-Geral de Veterinária, no sentido de podermos aceder a essa informação”, concluiu.

Source: Rádio Renascença
Text: Lusa
Photography: Alexis Chloe/Unsplash

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