Research Group Coordinator – Isabel Couto
The overarching aims of the THOP Research Group is the molecular epidemiology, diagnosis, study of drug resistance mechanisms, drug discovery and control of tuberculosis, HIV and opportunistic diseases, to assess global risks and impact on control programs focusing on the early diagnosis and improved precision medicine in the era of antimicrobial resistance and chronic immunosuppressive diseases.
During 2019, we continued our work on a Global Health perspective. With a focus on migrants and vulnerable populations in Portugal and CPLP countries, we have characterized phylogenetic origins, molecular epidemiological connections and determinants of resistance of several pathogens as well as new therapeutic strategies.
Special attention was given to GHTM´s infrastructure for big data sequencing analysis, to the international evaluation of the center activity (2014-2019) and promotion of our activities at several national and international open science dissemination events.
THOP´s 2019 highlights within the GHTM main cross-cutting issues (CCIs):
CCI “Global Pathogen dispersion and Population mobility”:
– Molecular characterization of HIV1 subtypes, acquired and transmitted drug resistance in migrants followed up in Portugal (2001-2017); HIV-1 genetic diversity and drug resistance in Angola and Cape-Verde.
– Development of computational methods, algorithms and molecular epidemiology approaches to identify and study (i) Dengue, Zika and Chikungunya virus species and genotypes; (ii) the selective pressure of antiretroviral treatment on HIV-1 and; (iii) norovirus and rotavirus infections in Portuguese elderly living in aged care homes; (iv) and reliably prediction of M/XDRTB drug resistance from NGS data using portable systems in Portugal and Brazil.
CCI “Drug Discovery and Resistance”:
– Identification by in silico drug repurposing of >20 approved drugs with anti-TB potential;
– Testing of new mycobacterial efflux inhibitors as adjuvants of the treatment delivered in nanocomposite respirable microparticles;
– Characterization of the S. aureus efflux-pump norA diversity and its role in resistance.
CCI “Diagnostics “:
– New tools for the diagnosis of Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia, using nanotechnology approaches (one patent submitted);
– Molecular epidemiology of infections by Toxoplasma gondii, Giardia duodenalis, Cryptosporidium spp., Blastocystis hominis and Microsporidia, in Europe and Mozambique;
– Identification of transcriptional alterations during Hepatitis Delta virus infection and relation with liver oncogenic processes;
– New tool for the diagnosis of tuberculosis and HIV co-infection using superparamagnetic nanoparticles.