ICBAS - Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar

Sustainable aquaculture and functional diets for fish

Aquaculture is the fastest-growing global animal production sector, already contributing to more than 50% of the fish consumed worldwide. This growth will continue due to limitations in the capture of wild species and the increase in world population and consequent increase in demand.

Portugal already imports about 2/3 of the fish it consumes, which represents an imbalance in the trade balance of over €600 million/year. This imbalance can only be overcome through the sustained and sustainable development of aquaculture. In this sense, the European vision for the Sustainable Development of Aquaculture emerges, based on the promotion of competitiveness through innovative, environmentally sustainable methodologies, considering animal welfare and health, and the consumer's perspective.

In Portugal, as well as in Europe, essentially marine and mostly carnivorous species are produced. In the national territory, the main ones are turbot, sea bream, trout, sea bass and sole. The production of these species implies knowing the nutritional requirements of each one of them to ensure excellent growth, optimizing animal health and well-being.

The existing diets on the market are particularly designed for each species and these formulations follow well-defined and regulated rules. The entire process is tracked to ensure consumer safety. Likewise, the nutritional value of each fish depends on these diets, being important to ensure that they meet the highest quality requirements.

The CIIMAR Fish Nutrition, Growth and Quality Laboratory, led by an ICBAS Professor, works to optimize and evaluate sustainable production practices in aquaculture and improve the quality, safety and well-being of fish. It also prepares functional diets for these animals, designed to promote their health and nutritional value, to respond to the growing demands of the consumer.


To know more:

- Fish Nutrition and Feeding
- Increased growth and immune response of European sea bass through diet
- Change in lipid metabolism and oxidative stress of rainbow trout through diet

Contact: Professor Luísa Valente (lvalente@icbas.up.pt)


Vet-OncoNet Project: One Oncology, One Health

Many of the tumors in companion animals are comparable to human tumors and can serve as a model in epidemiological studies and clinical trials.

In clinical trials, companion animals are better positioned than animal models, such as laboratory mice, because in addition to being exposed to similar environmental risk factors, they develop cancer spontaneously and quickly, which favors clinical results. In the future, it is expected that companion animals can be used as sentinels for risky environments for humans, enabling the adoption of preventive measures appropriate to human and environmental health.

Vet-OncoNet is a network for sharing information on companion animal tumors and research of risk factors. This platform is an initiative of ICBAS and the Institute of Public Health of the University of Porto (ISPUP), framed in the One Health policies of these institutions. It involves researchers from the departments of Population Studies, Veterinary Clinics, Pathology and Molecular Immunology at ICBAS and the Department of Veterinary Public Health of ISPUP. The University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro (UTAD) joined this initiative, becoming a co-founding institution of the Vet-OncoNet Network. Built on the pillars of the One Health concept and vision, it aims to contribute to progress in prevention and therapy in animal and human oncology. They mutually benefit from this joint approach and knowledge sharing between scientists from different fields.

Within this academic-scientific context, Vet-OncoNet's mission is to develop scientific activity, teaching, dissemination, and communication of credible information in the field of Animal Oncology.

To know more:

Vet-Onconet: Information sharing network on neoplasms of pets and investigation of risk factors

Contact: Professor João Niza Ribeiro (jjribeiro@icbas.up.pt)


Prevention of physical and mental retardation through iodine intake

Humans and other animals require the intake of a certain amount of iodine, a nutrient necessary for the regular functioning of the thyroid, a gland that regulates the body's metabolism.

Food, water, and breathing the iodine-rich coastal air are the natural sources of this nutrient. Fish, dairy products, and seaweed used to be enough to cover our needs. However, the new nutritional paradigm in the developed world favors the intake of iodine-poor foods. Iodine deficiency, especially during pregnancy and in the first years of life, can compromise the physical and mental development of children.

Salt iodization is the cheapest, most sustainable, and universal way to deal with this problem. The process started a century ago in Switzerland. In Western Europe, mandatory use is not widespread, and the disability can reach worrying levels. In Africa, due to the contribution of the International Community, students are regularly supplemented. Urine tests are used to check iodine levels. However, low or high levels of iodine lead to the same disease - goiter. Therefore, correct daily intake by children and adults, including pregnant women, is imperative to address iodine deficiency worldwide.

The Laboratory of Hydrobiology and Ecology of ICBAS assesses, in Guinea-Bissau (and beyond), the sufficiency of iodine in human urine using a method certified for this purpose. This work is essential to identify iodine deficiency and deal with its consequences.

To know more:

- Endemic goiter and iodine deficiency status among Guinea-Bissau school-age children
- Can non-fortified marine salt cover human needs for iodine?

Contact: Professor Adriano A. Bordalo (bordalo@icbas.up.pt)


Cholera: The forgotten pandemic

For several millennia, cholera - an acute diarrheal disease that can lead to death in a few days if left untreated - devastated the Indian subcontinent. Vasco da Gama, the well-known Portuguese navigator, died of cholera in southern India in the 16th century.

Cholera is still active today in four continents, with a special incidence in Africa. The disease is already in the 7th pandemic, which has been going on since 1960. In Europe, the last epidemic occurred in Portugal in 1974, where it infected almost 2,500 citizens and killed 48.

Contaminated water and food are the main sources of the cholera agent - a vibrio (bacteria) ubiquitous in coastal waters. Once ingested in a sufficient dose, the bacteria can escape the stomach's acid barrier and colonize the intestine. If toxins are produced, a person can lose up to 20 liters of internal fluid through watery diarrhea. If these fluids are not replaced, the patient dies. The treatment is particularly inexpensive, by electrolyte replacement through the administration of an oral rehydration solution, a mixture of sugar and salts and (eventually) common antibiotics.

Lack of clean water, sanitation, hygiene, and poor health care favor the spread of the disease. The battle for eradication is far from being accomplished, an additional problem for the poorest of the poor. The Laboratory of Hydrobiology and Ecology of ICBAS studies the conditions of access to water (quality and microbiology) of the population in Guinea-Bissau, analyzes the relationship between water consumption and the onset of disease, and identifies the possible causes of contamination of this precious liquid

To know more:

Water bags as a potential vehicle for transmitting disease in a West African capital, Bissau
Analysis of the bacterial community composition in acidic well water used for drinking in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa

Contact: Professor Adriano A. Bordalo (bordalo@icbas.up.pt)


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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