The (Ir)Resistible World of Antibiotics

General description

You’ve grown up thinking antibiotics are true powerhouses and now you wonder: “If that’s so, why aren´t they that much effective nowadays? Are bacteria becoming resistant somehow? Wait, isn’t that dangerous? If antibiotics stop working, what are we going to do? Is there any way out?”

If you’re aiming to find answers, and we know you are, we strongly advise you to join “The (Ir)resistible World of Antibiotics”! We’ve got the equipment, the people and the specialists to help you prepare to survive this silent, yet deadly, threat that bacteria are becoming.

Last but not least, you will be able to disinfect your soul by riding our famous bikes and navigating our calm waters in our charming Moliceiros. All of this while we keep you strong for the long nights ahead!

See? We told you Aveiro is (ir)resistible.

Academic information

Fields of activity:
Biological/Biotechnical/Gene Engineering , Biology , Biomedical Engineering , Chemical Engineering , Chemistry/Chemical Technology , Food Engineering , Medicine/Dental Medicine , Pharmacy , Veterinary Medicine
Content and topics:
Antibiotics are chemical substances from biological origin with antibacterial properties, simply put. At the same time they are one of the most frequently prescribed classes of drugs. But bacterial resistance, the counterpart of antibiotic production by microorganisms, has nothing simple about it. A resistance phenotype can be related to a single gene or result from the complex interplay of several genes. Thus, the inappropriate use of antibiotics exerts an unnecessary selective pressure and promotes the emergence of multiresistant bacteria. And this risk is not confined to health-care systems. Urban effluents and runoffs from agriculture complexes are also contributors. Therefore innovative approaches are needed in order to find new ways to fight antibiotic resistant bacteria. Phage therapy is an eco-friendly alternative approach to prevent and control pathogenic bacteria. This therapy consists in the application of bacteriophages (bacterial viruses) to infect and kill unwanted bacteria. Its use, however, requires the understanding of kinetics phenomena that are not important during conventional drug treatments. Antimicrobial photodynamic therapy (aPDT) is another alternative, recognized by its potential as a new form of antimicrobial treatment. It’s a non-antibiotic approach that combines a nontoxic photosensitizer (a chemioluminescence compound) with visible light to generate oxygen related compounds able to oxidize microbial vital constituents, resulting in lethal damage. These two approaches will be discussed and tested in laboratory during this course.
Learning goals and objectives:
In this course we will make a general introduction to bacterial life, genetics and how do resistances arise, how they are transmitted, talk about antimicrobial resistance in clinical, environmental and global context and the search for innovative approaches and new targets for therapy. The lectures will include an overview of the problem and its societal implications as well as up to date scientific information. A couple of case studies will be used to engage the audience and elicit its participation. Following this introduction an overview of the advances achieved on the inactivation of microorganisms in the clinical and environmental areas by phage therapy and photodynamic therapy (PDT) will be presented and discussed. The phage survival in the environment, the phage host range infection, the impact of phage addition on the natural bacterial community; the multiplicity of infection and the effect of physical and chemical properties of the environment on the efficiency of phage therapy will be presented and discussed. The new modes of antimicrobial action provided by PDT will also be discussed. In practical classes, phage therapy experiments will be done, as well as PDT assays to inactivate bacteria by tetrapyrrolic photosensitizers.
Examination type:
Final exam with multiple choice questions and an open question.
ECTS credits issued:
Not known yet

Information for applicants

Selection criteria:
Interest on the topic and the city. Creativity.

Practical arrangements

All of the following are covered by the event fee:

University dorms
3 meals per day at least one of them hot. Traditional portuguese food.
Transportation will be guaranteed through the University bus and Vans.