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Microbiology and Immunology

Lab Overview

This Lab aims at studying patterns of bacterial, viral and oncogenic diseases affecting both animals and humans, and to develop novel therapeutic and control strategies for a sustainable health, including vaccines, phage therapy, and antimicrobial peptides. It also focuses on microbial surveillance in shared ecosystems, on the development of new diagnostic tools based on biosensors and on the characterization of virulence mechanisms of emerging zoonotic pathogens affecting health quality under the wide concept of “One Health”.

The main contributions to health quality of animals and humans occur namely through studying:

- Small animal viral, inflammatory and oncogenic diseases using animal models to assess novel immunology based therapeutic strategies such as the use of monoclonal antibodies and immunomodulatory molecules to treat lymphoma, immunodeficiency, SIRS and Sepsis;

- Antimicrobial resistance and virulence mechanisms of emerging bacterial isolates, from animal and human origins and possible communication routes with an impact on public health. Novel strategies for controlling these strains are being developed, focusing on the use of compounds that interfere with bacterial viability and/or inhibit Quorum-Sensing systems, such as antimicrobial peptides;

- The collateral effects of mastitis on the spread of virulent agents and in the quality of milk as an important public health determinant and the impact of current dairy farm management practices on Public Health and Animal Health Economics;

- Microbial Surveillance in wild and free ranging animals, including cetaceans, Eurasian and Neotropical otters, sea turtles and Critically Endangered cyprinids, and its impact on ecosystems shared by domestic livestock, wildlife, and humans.


- Clinical and immunological characterization of naturally occurring canine lymphoma: Development of recombinant antibodies and small molecules compounds for diagnosis and therapeutic applications.

- Overcoming the Brain Drug Delivery Bottleneck: Development of recombinant antibodies and peptides for brain targeting and drug delivery across the Blood-Brain Barrier  

- Polyphasic validation of antimicrobial peptides as alternative treatment for diabetic foot infections.

- Decreasing the impact of mastitis


Selected Publications


Dias, J.N.R., Aguiar, S.I., Pereira, D.M., André, A.S., Gano, L., Correia, J.D.G., Carrapiço, B., Rütgen, B., Malhó, R., Peleteiro, C., Goncalves, J., Rodrigues, C.M.P., Gil, S., Tavares, L., Aires-da-Silva, F. 2018. The histone deacetylase inhibitor panobinostat is a potent antitumor agent in canine diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Oncotarget 9:28586-28598.

Semedo-Lemsaddek, T., Pedroso, N.M., Freire, D., Nunes, T., Tavares, L., Verdade, L.M., Oliveira, M. 2018. Otter fecal enterococci as general indicators of antimicrobial resistance dissemination in aquatic environments. Ecological Indicators 85: 1113–1120.

Leão, C., Botelho, A., Martins, E., Aguiar, C., Rebelo, I., Nunes, T., Bexiga, R. 2017. Presence of Mycobacterium avium subs. paratuberculosis DNA in milk used to feed calves in Portugal. Journal of Dairy Research 84(2): 124-127. 

Neves, V., Aires-Da-Silva, F., Morais, M., Gano, L., Ribeiro, E., Pinto, A., Aguiar, S., Gaspar, D., Fernandes, C., Correia, J.D., Castanho, M.A. 2017. Novel Peptides Derived from Dengue Virus Capsid Protein Translocate Reversibly the Blood-Brain Barrier through a Receptor-Free Mechanism. ACS Chemical Biolology 12(5):1257-1268. 

Oliveira, M., Serrano, I., Santos, J.P., Bilocq, F., Pereira, N., Loureiro, N.S., Tavares, L., Pirnay J.P., De Vos, D. 2017. Pseudomonads from wild free-living sea turtles in Príncipe Island, Gulf of Guinea. Ecological Indicators 91: 260-264. 

Bento, M.C., Eira, C.I., Vingada, J.V., Marçalo, A.L., Ferreira, M.C.T., Fernandez, A.L., Tavares, L.M.M., Duarte, A.I.S.P., 2016. New insight into dolphin morbillivirus phylogeny and epidemiology in the northeast Atlantic: opportunistic study in cetaceans stranded along the Portuguese and Galician coastsBMC Veterinary Research12: 1-12.

Cunha-Santos, C., Figueira, T.N., Borrego, P., Oliveira, S.S., Rocha, C., Couto, A., Cantante, C., Santos-Costa, Q., Azevedo-Pereira, J.M., Fontes, C.M., Taveira, N., Aires-Da-Silva, F., Castanho, M.A., Veiga, A.S., Goncalves, J. 2016. Development of synthetic light-chain antibodies as novel and potent HIV fusion inhibitors. AIDS17:30(11):1691-1701.

Mottola, C., Semedo-Lemsaddek, T., Mendes, J.J., Melo-Cristino, J., Tavares, L., Cavaco-Silva, P., Oliveira, M. 2016. Molecular typing, virulence traits and antimicrobial resistance of diabetic foot staphylococci. Journal of Biomedical Science23: 33. 

Neves, V., Aires-da-Silva, F., Corte-Real, S., Castanho, M.A.R.B. 2016. Antibody Approaches To Treat Brain Diseases. Trends in Biotechnology34(1): 36-48.

Gil, S., Leal, R., McGahie, D., Sepúlveda, N., Duarte, A., Niza MMRE., Tavares L. 2014. Oral recombinant feline interferon-omega as an alternative immune modulation therapy in FIV positive cats: clinical and laboratorial evaluation. Research in Veterinary Science 96(1):79-85.