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Microbiology and Immunology

Lab Overview

Our aim is the study of 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. We also focus 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 on the wider concept of “One Health”.This lab aims at contributing to health quality of animals and humans namely through studying:

  • Small animal viral, inflammatory and oncogenic diseases as 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, including Salmonella, from animal and human origins and possible communication traits with impact on public health. Novel strategies for controlling these strains will be developed, focusing in 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 and its impact in ecosystems shared by domestic livestock, wildlife and humans.

 

Selected Publications


Bexiga, R., Rato, M.G., Lemsaddek. A., Semedo-Lemsaddek, T., Carneiro, C., Pereira, H., Mellor, D.J., Ellis, K.A., Vilela, C.L. 2014. Dynamics of bovine intramammary infections due to coagulase-negative stahylococci on four farms. J Dairy Res 81:208-214.

This work demonstrates that despite the high number of coagulase-negative staphylococci species, a small number of these is responsible for most mastitis cases, and those have a similar impact in terms of inflammatory response and duration of infection. Some clues suggest there might be a different epidemiology of infection for different species.

Gil, S., Leal, R.O., McGahie, D., Sepúlveda, N., Duarte, A., Niza, M.M.R.E., Tavares, L. 2014. Oral Recombinant Feline Interferon-Omega as an alternative immune modulation therapy in FIV positive cats: Clinical and laboratory evaluation. Res Vet Sci 96:79–85.

This study demonstrates that independently of the protocol, rFeIFN-ω induced a significant clinical improvement of treated cats. In opposition to the SC group, changes on concurrent viral excretion and APP were not significant in the PO group.

Seixas, R., Machado, J., Bernardo, F., Vilela, C.L., Oliveira, M. 2014. Biofilm formation by Salmonella enterica serovar 1,4,[5],12:i:- Portuguese isolates: a phenotypic, genotypic and socio-geographic analysis. Curr Microbiol 68:670-677.

The first report on biofilm production by the pandemic monophasic variant of Salmonella Typhimurium, including the characterization of the time course of biofilm production by clinical, environmental and veterinary isolates using phenotypic and genotypic techniques.

da Silva, F.A., Li, M., Rato, S., Maia, S., Malhó, R., Warren, K., Harrich, D., Craigie, R., Barbas, C. 3rd, Goncalves, J. 2012. Recombinant rabbit single-chain antibodies bind to the catalytic and C-terminal domains of HIV-1 integrase protein and strongly inhibit HIV-1 replication. Biotechnol Appl Biochem. 59:353-66.

The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) integrase protein plays an important role during the early stages of the retroviral life cycle and therefore is an attractive target for therapeutic intervention. In this study, we show that rabbit anti-integrase scFv intrabodies can be designed to block the early stages of HIV-1 replication without causing cellular toxicity. Therefore, these anti-IN-scFvs may be useful agents for "intracellular immunization"-based gene therapy strategies.

Duarte, A., Fernandes, M., Santos, N., Tavares, L.2012. Virological Survey in free-ranging wildcats (Felis silvestris) and feral domestic cats in Portugal. Vet Microbiol 158:400-404.

Infectious diseases pose a potential threat to endangered species, namely to the wildcat and to the Iberian lynx, which is meant to be reintroduced after 2012 in Portugal. Evidence of exposure to FeLV, CDV, FCoV and FPV was found in wild and feral cats.