LAQV REQUIMTE

About LAQV

Funding

Institutional Funding

2019

2019-01-01 to 2019-12-31

Laboratório Associado para a Química Verde - Tecnologias e Processos Limpos

Reference: UID/QUI/50006/2019

Beneficiary entities: REQUIMTE | ICETA | NOVA.ID

Funding: 2,668,750.00€

2015-2018

2015-01-01 to 2018-12-31

Laboratório Associado para a Química Verde - Tecnologias e Processos Limpos

Reference: UID/QUI/50006/2013 | POCI-01-0145-FEDER-007265

Beneficiary entities: REQUIMTE | ICETA | NOVA.ID

Funding: 10,675,000.00€ 

FEDER: 4,672,435.55€

Nacional: 5,977,564.45€

European Funding (European Comission)

CHARISMA | Entrepreneuring Chemical Irreversibility to Prototype Responsive Smart Labels

2019-04-01 to 2023-03-31

H2020 - Fostering new skills by means of excellent initial training of researchers

Jorge Parola and César Laia

NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon

LAQV Role: Partner

In a world in which sensors are multiplying to give information to people, a need to represent these messages in an appealing and unequivocal way appears as one of the new challenges in information and communication technologies. It is with this idea, that the CHARISMA Industrial Doctoral Training elevates the concept of applied irreversibility to displays, empowering packaging industries with the tools and innovative advanced materials to engineer smart labels. CHARISMA develops printable smart labels that, capitalizing on a sensor responsive to an external stimulus (e.g., temperature), will allow the irreversible colour change of a chromogenic displaying unit. All this is connected through a circuitry that, through a powered capacitor or an OPV device, can allow the stimulus response and trigger a chromogenic (e.g., electrochromic) switching event. Once the signal is transmitted to the chromogenic display, the display will turn colour (e.g., into black), and this state cannot be converted back. The CHARISMA smart labels are thin and flexible taking virtually no space, and thus printable on any surface. The project brings together 9 ESRs in a strong interdisciplinary consortium of five beneficiaries, industry and research balanced, with state-of-the-art backgrounds in synthetic chemistry, printing, electronics system integration, and complete chromogenic solutions. This is complemented with the commitment of four non-academic partner organizations. The CHARISMA’s ESRs will be exposed to industrial training program on smart labels, in which theoretical and practical research schemes in device engineering and innovation are integrated with topical themes and methods imported from chemistry, physics and business.

Funding Program: H2020-EU.1.3.1. - Fostering new skills by means of excellent initial training of researchers

Topic: MSCA-ITN-2018 - Innovative Training Networks

Grant agreement ID: 814299

DECOCHROM | Decorative Applications for Self-Organized Molecular Electrochromic Systems

2018-01-01 to 2021-12-31

H2020 - Industrial Leadership - Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies

César Laia

NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon

LAQV Role: Partner

The DecoChrom project elevates printed graphics products to the age of interactivity, and empowers the creative industries with the tools and innovative advanced material sets to design and build aesthetically pleasing practical human interfaces to smart consumer goods and environments. The DecoChrom consortium develops printed electrochromics (EC) as the mass producible, print industry compatible, ultra low-power interactive graphics solution for ambient intelligence.

DecoChrom will scale-up the production of advanced composite materials into 3 innovative ink EC colours, manufacturing process on different materials (plastic foil, paper, high-pressure laminates and 3D durable plastic parts), wide dissemination and creation of EC toolkits to introduce electrochromics to designers, makers and the printing industry, and finally the co-creation of more than 20 creative industry lead end-user prototypes and pilots for architecture, interior design, lifestyle and sports.

The project brings together a strong interdisciplinary consortium of 15 partners, industry and research balanced, with state-of-the-art backgrounds in design, chemistry, printing, coatings and laminates, electronics system integration, and complete electrochromics solutions. This is complemented with the commitment of a multidisciplinary Industrial Advisory Board with representation of key industry end-users such as Ikea (furniture), Lego (toys), BMW (automotive), Fiskars (domestic tools), Hoffmann + Krippner (printed electronics, industrial printing) and GSB Wahl (ink production).

Funding Program: H2020-EU.2.1.3. - INDUSTRIAL LEADERSHIP - Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies - Advanced materials

Topic: NMBP-05-2017 - Advanced materials and innovative design for improved functionality and aesthetics in high added value consumer goods

Grant agreement ID: 760973

Des.solve | When solids become liquids: natural deep eutectic solvents for chemical process engineer

2017-03-01 to 2022-02-28

H2020 - European Research Council (ERC)

Ana Rita Duarte

NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon

Sugars, aminoacids or organic acids are typically solid at room temperature. Nonetheless when combined at a particular molar fraction they present a high melting point depression, becoming liquids at room temperature. These are called Natural Deep Eutectic Solvents – NADES. NADES are envisaged to play a major role on different chemical engineering processes in the future. Nonetheless, there is a significant lack of knowledge on fundamental and basic research on NADES, which is hindering their industrial applications. For this reason it is important to extend the knowledge on these systems, boosting their application development. NADES applications go beyond chemical or materials engineering and cover a wide range of fields from biocatalysis, extraction, electrochemistry, carbon dioxide capture or biomedical applications. Des.solve encompasses four major themes of research: 1 – Development of NADES and therapeutic deep eutectic solvents – THEDES; 2 – Characterization of the obtained mixtures and computer simulation of NADES/THEDES properties; 3 – Phase behaviour of binary/ternary systems NADES/THEDES + carbon dioxide and thermodynamic modelling 4 – Application development. Starting from the development of novel NADES/THEDES which, by different characterization techniques, will be deeply studied and characterized, the essential raw-materials will be produced for the subsequent research activities. The envisaged research involves modelling and molecular simulations. Des.solve will be deeply engaged in application development, particularly in extraction, biocatalysis and pharmaceutical/biomedical applications. The knowledge that will be created in this proposal is expected not only to have a major impact in the scientific community, but also in society, economy and industry.

Funding Program: H2020-EU.1.1. - EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC)

Topic: ERC-2016-COG - ERC Consolidator Grant

Grant agreement ID: 725034

EcoSens Aquamonitrix | Enhanced Portable Sensor for Water Quality Monitoring, moving to genuinely integrated Water Resource Management

2018-03-02 to 2021-03-31

LIFE Programme

João Crespo and Cláudia Galinha

NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon

LIFE EcoSens Aquamonitrix will bring a new water quality monitoring solution to market, one that can cost-effectively meet the WFD's requirements for frequent monitoring of water quality. The device can carry out near continuous analysis of water sources, monitoring the indicators of water quality including nutrients, pH, chemical oxygen demand and suspended solids. Prototypes of the portable system will be manufactured and tested in 11 operational environments. The goal is to provide remote access to the device and to monitoring results. Efficient power consumption will allow longer deployment periods and reduced need for maintenance. The project will assess device performance from an environmental and economic point of view using lifecycle analysis and lifecycle cost calculations. Results will be used to draft a business plan to ensure market penetration.

When brought to market, this affordable technology will result in more monitoring being undertaken, simplify water management decision-making and make it easier to comply with regulations. This will support the implementation of the WFD and a raft of related EU policy, including directives on nitrates, drinking water, bathing water, groundwater, urban wastewater treatment, floods, marine strategy, habitats and industrial emissions.

Funding Program: LIFE Programme

Reference: LIFE17 ENV/IE/000237

GENIALG | Genetic Diversity Exploitation for Innovative Macro-algal biorefinery

2017-01-01 to 2020-12-31

H2020 - Cross-cutting marine and maritime research

Artur Silva and Maria do Rosário Domingues

University of Aveiro

LAQV Role: Partner

The GENIALG project aims to boost the Blue Biotechnology Economy (BBE) by increasing the production and sustainable exploitation of two high-yielding species of the EU seaweed biomass: the brown alga Saccharina latissima and the green algae Ulva spp. GENIALG will demonstrate the economic feasibility and environmental sustainability of cultivating and refining seaweed biomass in multiple use demanded products of marine renewable origin. The consortium integrates available knowledge in algal biotechnology and ready to use reliable eco-friendly tools and methods for selecting and producing high yielding strains in economically feasible quantities and qualities. By cracking the biomass and supplying a wide diversity of chemical compounds for existing as well as new applications and markets, GENIALG will anticipate the economic, social and environmental impacts of such developments in term of economic benefit and job opportunities liable to increase the socio-economic value of the blue biotechnology sector. In a larger frame, conservation and biosafety issues will be addressed as well as more social aspects such as acceptability and competition for space and water regarding other maritime activities. To achieve these objectives GENIALG will foster a trans-sectorial and complementary consortium of scientists and private companies. GENIALG will involve a diversity of private companies already positioned in the seaweed sector individually for different applications (texturants, feed, agriculture, bioplastics, pharmaceuticals, personal care products…) in order to strengthen interactions for developing a bio-refinery concept and accelerate efficient and sustainable exploitation of seaweed biomass to bring new high-value products on the market.

Funding Program: H2020-EU.3.2.5. - Cross-cutting marine and maritime research

Topic: BG-01-2016 - Large-scale algae biomass integrated biorefineries

Grant agreement ID: 727892

INFUSION | Engineering optoelectronic Interfaces: a global action intersecting Fundamental concepts and technology implementation of self-organized organic materials

2017-01-01 to 2020-12-31

H2020 - Stimulating innovation by means of cross-fertilisation of knowledge

Jorge Parola

NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon

LAQV Role: Partner

Investing in energy efficiency and saving is crucial to support energy accessibility and environmental protection, and it is the world’s best interest to share and implement forms of energy efficiency. This implies a stronger and effective transnational policy to promote and disseminate know-how about new technologies both at the market and R&D level. In this respect, development of projects centered on energy efficient technologies based on nanostructured organic materials certainly is a strategic field. The progresses in mastering organic matter by self-assembly and self-organization to form ordered soft-materials revolutionized the field opening new frontiers for both fundamental and applied research. However the route towards organic materials for application at the industrial scale is restricted by difficulties in the control and manipulation of the structural organization at the molecular level and its manifestation at higher scales. Motivated by the potential for significant energy savings, the INFUSION project aims to create a strongly interdisciplinary and inter-sectorial environment in which the principles of self-organization are poured from the Academia into the private sector and vice-versa to create new paradigms to engineer electrochromic devices. Through a detailed plan of 83 secondments, the project aims at cross-fertilize the electrochromic technology joining specific expertise to realize a bottom-up approach toward the design, preparation and characterization of self-organized organic materials (chromophores, CNSs, polymers...) at different interfaces (ITO, graphene) and exhibiting superior performances (optical, durability…). For the transfer of knowledge, the project combines the multidisciplinary expertise of 6 universities, 1 research institute, and 3 companies representing 4 EU and 2 TC countries (Pakistan and Argentina) in the field of organic chemistry, photochemistry, surface science, polymer and materials science, and device engineering.

Funding Program: H2020-EU.1.3.3. - Stimulating innovation by means of cross-fertilisation of knowledge

Topic: MSCA-RISE-2016 - Research and Innovation Staff Exchange

Grant agreement ID: 734834

KET4F-Gas | Reduction of the Environmental Impact of Fluorinated Gases in the Sudoe space using Key Enabling Technologies

2018-01-01 to 2020-12-31

Interreg Sudoe Programme

Ana Belén Pereiro Estévez

NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon

LAQV Role: Proponent

In the current context of persistent drought in the Southwestern regions of Europe (SUDOE area), in which more and more difficult fire events are occurring due to prolonged drought periods and high winds, research on alternatives that contribute to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions is a high-priority issue. The use of fluorinated gases has drastically increased in recent years, especially in the refrigeration sector, as they are a good substitute for ozone-depleting substances that phased out under the Montreal’s Protocol. Despite their good properties and characteristics (energy efficient, ozone-friendly, safe for users and handling, low flammability, non toxicity, among others), F-gases are powerful greenhouse gases, showing a global warming potential up to 23,000 times higher than carbon dioxide one. Hence, their emissions to the atmosphere should be considerably reduced according to the Kyoto’s protocol and the new EU regulation. The objective of this project is to contribute to the reduction of F-gases emissions by developing and implementing Key Enabling Technologies, which follow benign and efficient green chemistry principles and use alternative climate-friendly solvents to recover these F-gases, usually employed in refrigeration and air-conditioning systems. In this sense, this project boosts the growth of applied research and eco-innovation to mitigate environmental impacts, and the technological transfer to enhance the competitiveness of SME’s in the region of Southwest Europe.

MAGNAMED | Novel magnetic nanostructures for medical applications

2017-04-01 to 2021-03-31

H2020 - Stimulating innovation by means of cross-fertilisation of knowledge

Cláudia Nunes

Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto

LAQV Role: Partner

MAGNAMED designs, fabricates, and assesses novel magnetic nanostructures (MNS) with unique spin configurations for innovative diagnostics and therapy techniques. An early stage detection and an effective treatment are keystones to reduce cancer mortality. Current clinical procedures fail to detect small concentration of tumoral biomarkers. Magnetic nanoparticles (MNP), like beads, have attracted much attention for their capability to improve cancer detection limits and treatment technologies. However, there are several limitations to the use of MNP. As an emerging alternative, MNS are being explored. Unlike MNP, MNS (e.g. nanodisks) present a planar shape with novel properties for diagnosis: high magnetic moment and large size, which can significantly improve the sensor sensitivity, and for therapy: due to their planar shape, alternate magnetic fields provoke a magneto-mechanical action on the cell membrane that triggers cell death. The efficiency of MNS in these two medical applications has not been investigated yet for MNS at the nanometer scale. The challenge of this project is to produce MNS with nanometer dimensions suitable for medical applications. Several lithography techniques will be used to fabricate MNS in vortex and antiferromagnetic spin configurations covering a broad size range (40 to 4000 nm). After functionalization, MNS will be exploited in: (i) Diagnostics, using giant magnetoresistance (GMR) sensors for the detection of tumoral biomarkers (dermcidin and carcinoembryonic antigen), and (ii) Therapy, effectiveness of tumoral cell annihilation by the magneto-mechanical action of MNS will be evaluated in vitro assays of melanoma and colorectal cancer cells. MAGNAMED is a cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary project involving Physics, Chemistry and Medicine. Findings will have a medium-term impact on the European strategy for early stage detection of cancer and a long-term impact on the development of novel and groundbreaking therapeutics techniques.

Funding Program: H2020-EU.1.3.3. - Stimulating innovation by means of cross-fertilisation of knowledge

Topic: MSCA-RISE-2016 - Research and Innovation Staff Exchange

Grant agreement ID: 734801

MEDCLiV | Mediterranean Climate Vine & Wine Ecosystem

2019-10-01 to 2022-09-30

Luísa M. Ferreira

NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon

LAQV Role: Partner

The impact of climate change on the sustainable land use of rural areas and its impact on the vine and wine value chain (VWVC) has been widely discussed in recent decades. The sector is crucial for the Mediterranean region, due to its strong economic and cultural impact, spreading its influence to landscape and tourism, expressing its full integration in the Mediterranean life-style. In regions where grapevine cultivation is part of the agricultural, economic, and cultural heritage, changes in the VWVC may heavily affect socio-economic aspects, unless adaptation measures are taken.

The Orchestrated Ecosystem built in this project aims at seting up national Mediterranan Climat e Vine & Wine Hubs (MCVWH) for a communitary, interdisciplinary, cross-cuting approach to the awareness of the climate-induced changes and to their solutions. Theidea is to bring together the different players of the VWVC in order to share the know-how, ideas, solutions, perspectives, about the common problems, already showing in the most prone areas, but not preventing the disclosure of new chances for areas not yet fully exploited. An ini????al "core" consortium, made up of institutions, will broaden its partnership to the "demand owners" (some already present as "third parties") during its life time, since this is precisely one aim of MEDCLIV. The countries involved are Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Slovenia, and Cyprus.

The project will carry out a preliminary survey, a necessary step to mapping climate-related risks and solutions to problems. These data will contribute to a particular extension of the platform Agrisource, which will create a sub-category of the geographical database, specifically devoted to viticultural and oenological matters for the Mediterranean countries. Agrisource MEDCLIV will thus become the “virtual” meeting point for the whole vine and wine supply chain (VWSC), also implementing new features, like social channels.

An innovative approach for managing problems and solutions is an organization of “Living Labs”, na????onal events where different stakeholders points of views will be compared and confronted with each other, fostering cross-fertilization of ideas. They will be a breeding ground to occasions to establish fruitful collaborations among the different players, particularly giving voice to problem owners. The “levers of change” will be powered by such events, as well as by the knowledge dissemination and learning events; particularly, citizen-oriented events will have the aim to spread the awareness of the climate-change issues in the VWVC.

The future proofing for the subsistence of the MEDCLIV Hubs will be a major concern for the project team, which will work from the start to the generation of business models, to ensure the survival of the hubs after the project end.

Funding Agency: Climate-KIC Holding B.V

Topic: Climate Innovation Ecosystems: Cross European Projects

Grant agreement ID: TC_1.1.11_190658_P 326 - 1A

NANOMED | Nanoporous and Nanostructured Materials for Medical Applications

2017-01-01 to 2020-12-31

H2020 - Stimulating innovation by means of cross-fertilisation of knowledge | Svitlana Lyubchyk

NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon

LAQV Role: Partner

This project aims to stimulate intersectoral and international collaboration within Europe and with an ICPC country, Kazakhstan, in the area of novel nanoporous and nanostructured adsorbents for the treatment of very serious health conditions associated with acute and chronic exposure to external radiation and uptake of heavy metals and radiation as a consequence of accidental, occupational or deliberate activities and events. This can dramatically lower the quality of life of the people affected and at present the treatment available is costly and inefficient. Radioactive contamination is a particularly serious problem in two of the countries participating in this project, namely, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, on large territories of the Chernobyl zone and around Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, respectively. A large number of people are affected by living in the areas with elevated level of radioactivity with uncertain long-term consequences to their health and the health of future generations. The expected impact of the project results is development of efficient and cost-effective methods of protection of first responders, population and cancer patients treated with radiotherapy from elevated doses of external and incorporated radiation and for occupational health protection of personnel working and the population living in areas contaminated with heavy metals.

Funding Program: H2020-EU.1.3.3. - Stimulating innovation by means of cross-fertilisation of knowledge

Topic: MSCA-RISE-2016 - Research and Innovation Staff Exchange

Grant agreement ID: 734641

NEMOSINE | Innovative Packaging Solutions for Storage and Conservation of 20th Century Cultural Heri

2018-02-01 to 2022-01-31

H2020 - Industrial Leadership - Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies

Ana Ramos

NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon

LAQV Role: Partner

A huge percentage of the recent European cultural heritage (CH) can be found in movies, photographies, posters and slides produced between 1895 and 1970 were made using cellulose derivates. More than 75 years of visual and audio memories are in serious danger to be lost due to the natural instability cellulose acetate (CA) and Cellulose nitrate (CN) materials.

These physical media have helped to preserve the cultural material that is a real witness of socio-cultural European evolution in the recent era. It encompasses the possibility to understand the development of new arts such as cinema, photography or graphic arts and also the preservation of the socio-cultural memories of citizens located in major and local museums worldwide.

Conservators consider two approaches when planning treatments to extend the useful lifetime of cultural materials: preventive or passive and active or interventive. But in case of cellulose derivates and other components of the movie or photos, once initiated, degradation cannot be prevented, reversed or stopped, but only inhibited or slowed. Inhibitive conservation of cellulose derivates can either involve the removal or reduction of factors causing degradation including light, oxygen, acids, fungus and relative humidity among others, as well as cost-sensitive processes such as freeze.

NEMOSINE improves the traditional storage solutions, such as freeze storage (below 5ºC), by developing an innovative package with the main goal of energy saving and extent conservation time. NEMOSINE will develop: i) High O2 barrier and Active packaging using non-odour additives, ii) Active acid adsorbers based on functionalized Metal Organic Framework (MOFs) integrated in innovative structures, iii) Gas detection sensors to monitoring AA, O2 & NO, iv) Multi-scale modelling to correlate degradation & sensors signals, v) Packaging with modular design to fulfil the technical & economical requirements of the different CH made by cellulose derivates.

Funding Program: H2020-EU.2.1.3. - INDUSTRIAL LEADERSHIP - Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies - Advanced materials; H2020-EU.2.1.2. - INDUSTRIAL LEADERSHIP - Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies – Nanotechnologies

Topic: NMBP-35-2017 - Innovative solutions for the conservation of 20th century cultural heritage

Grant agreement ID: 760801

SEAFOODTOMORROW | Nutritious, safe and sustainable seafood for consumers of tomorrow

2017-11-01 to 2020-10-31

H2020 - Cross-cutting marine and maritime research

Sara Cunha

Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto

LAQV Role: Partner

SEAFOODTOMORROW aims to validate and optimize commercial solutions for improving the socioeconomic and environmental sustainability of the seafood production and processing industry, while contributing to product quality and safety. Activities will focus on the sustainable production and processing of nutritious and safe seafood products through the demonstration and first application in the market of eco-innovative, sustainable solutions of marine and aquaculture-derived food products and nutrients. The proposal will take into account impacts across different regions and population segments, as well as the specificities of different types of seafood.

Activities will include among others: utilization of agro and seafood byproducts to develop sustainable feeds for aquaculture enabling the production of tailor made products fortified with specific essential nutrients for consumers, assess the feasibility of salt replacers in seafood, validate digestible, attractive, functional and nutritionally adapted seafood for senior people and youths, validate strategies to prevent/remove contaminants from seafood, and optimize sensors and biosensors for the assessment of safety, among others.

The consortium expects strengthening the wider utilization of eco-innovative solutions, as a result of greater user acceptance, higher visibility of these innovative solutions and creation of scalable markets, and increasing the availability of healthier seafood to improve consumers' diet and health. The consortium is built on interdisciplinary research teams of 19 RTDs involved, renowned by its top-quality applied technological development and with strong and cohesive links gathered in previous funded activities (e.g. FP7 ECsafeSEAFOOD), thus anticipating successful outcomes. In addition, 4 IAGs and 13 SMEs with diverse and complementary interests in the solutions under validation and optimization will also integrate the consortium.

Funding Program: H2020-EU.3.2.5. - Cross-cutting marine and maritime research

Topic: BG-08-2017 - Innovative sustainable solutions for improving the safety and dietary properties of seafood

Grant agreement ID: 773400

National Funding (FCT/MCTES) | FEDER | Regional Funding (Norte2020)

3Ds | TransDermal Drug Delivery

2018-07-01 to 2021-06-30

Principal Investigator: Sofia Costa Lima, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto

A rational approach for the development and optimization of skin formulations demands well-defined skin models, able to identify and evaluate the intrinsic properties of the formulation. Increasing restrictions in use and handling of animals and human skin stimulated the search for suitable alternative skin models. Design of the most applicable in vitro model for transdermal delivery should be based on the interplay between the availability, easiness of the use, cost and the respective limitations in relation to human skin. Currently developed in vitro models lack similarity with human skin stratum corneum (SC) barrier in term of lipid composition and structure. The SC is the main contributor to the barrier properties of the skin that slows the drug penetration rates, limits drug uptake and contributes to lack of the dosing precision. Importantly, the final penetration potential of the drug can be modulated by the right optimization of a vehicle. Hydrogels prepared using natural hydrophilic polymers constitute a colloidal network with a high degree of flexibility, similar to natural tissue, and with the potential to controlled drug delivery systems. Marine polymers derived from marine organisms offer advantages as can be easily extracted, are water-soluble and biocompatible, biodegradable and exhibit adhesive properties, anti-inflammatory activities, the ability to form hydrogels which may respond to external stimuli.

3Ds research project aims to develop an alternative in vitro skin model for testing the transdermal delivery of bioactive compounds and to apply it as a tool in the optimization of drug formulation. The novel in vitro skin model will focus on the human SC barrier and will translate the lipid composition and the layers structure into a cost-effective mimetic platform in relation to existing phospholipid vesicle-based permeation assay?s systems. The developed SC mimetic model will be tested for their suitability for transdermal delivery applications in vitro and correlated with pig ear and human skin models. As proof-of-concept, the efficacy of the developed systems will be demonstrated for the delivery of bioactive agents upon optimization of drug formulation through marine-based hydrogels.

The multidisciplinary research team from REQUIMTE and the University of Porto has wide expertise on liposome production and characterization, delivery systems development, and optimization of transdermal formulations that assure the successful performance of the research proposal. 3Ds will end up with fully characterized and functional lipid based SC model demonstrated in a preclinical drug optimization development stage using marine-based hydrogels for enhanced transdermal delivery. 3Ds results will be a stepping stone for optimization of transdermal drug formulation.

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-30834)

Reference: PTDC/QUI-COL/30834/2017

AlleRiskAssess | Towards allergen risk assessment of foods: structural and immunogenic changes induced by novel processing technologies and alternative protein sources

2018-06-01 to 2021-05-31

Principal Investigator: Isabel Mafra, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto

Food allergies represent a biomedical risk, with increasing prevalence mainly in industrialised countries. About 90% of food allergies are specifically attributed to 8 groups of foods (tree nuts, peanuts, soybean, cereals containing gluten, eggs, milk, crustaceans and fish), but in theory any food is susceptible of triggering an allergic reaction in sensitised individuals. Particularly, emerging alternative protein sources, such as the insects, are considered novel foods that may cause allergic reactions either by de novo sensitisation or by cross-reactivity and need to be evaluated. Among other issues, the rising consumption of highly processed foods and the new processing technologies might promote the increase of allergies. So, understanding their impact on molecular structure and allergenic potential is crucial for managing allergen risks in the food chain. However, our current knowledge on the effect of food processing on allergen structure indicates that there are no clear rules regarding how allergens respond to distinct treatments and how different allergenic proteins interact with other food components (matrix effect). For this purpose, plant and animal allergenic foods as affected by classical (heat treatments) and new processing technologies (modulated electric fields ? ohmic treatment, and high-pressure processing ? HPP) will be investigated.

The innovative nature and originality of this project relies on the study of the properties of potentially allergenic proteins towards exposure to new and current food processing technologies and in vitro digestibility. Therefore, the aim of this project consists of a comprehensive and systematic approach to evaluate the induced changes of food allergens from their origin (farm or sea) to the ?fork? and along the human gut. To accomplish this goal, this project gathers a multidisciplinary team and know-how from food allergen analysis, biochemical/chemical characterisation, technological processing and in vitro digestibility.

In summary, with this project we expect to:

-Explore the allergenic potential of novel protein sources (insects as case study)

-Increase the knowledge regarding the induced protein changes from novel food technologies, simulated in vivo digestibility, and the combination of both;

-Propose new insights on structural characterisation of proteins and the most adequate and innovative methods for allergen analysis according to food matrix and processing;

-Give basis to understand and predict the allergenicity of foods, protecting the health of food allergic consumers;

-Contribute economically in the interest of food manufacturers by providing them with fast and friendly-use tools to improve the management of food allergens;

-Contribute to a more sustainable environment by the development of alternative methods using fewer reagents.

 

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-31720)

Reference: PTDC/BAA-AGR/31720/2017

ARTINTELPHASEQ | ARTificial INTELligence applied in PHASe EQuilibrium composition

2018-10-01 to 2021-09-30

Principal Investigator: Gonçalo Carrera, NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon

As in nature as in diverse anthropogenic processes, the multiple substances present in a specific system have a pattern of distribution among the diverse phases, regions with the same composition, delimited by interfaces. This pattern of distribution is ruled by conditions of pressure P, temperature T, global composition and characteristics of the intervening substances. In this project is proposed a method, based on the concept of artificial intelligence, as is the case of neural networks, to establish a relationship between the patterns of distribution and conditions/characteristics ruling the system. The neural network learns with examples (objects), systematically submitted to the network. Each object is constituted by two different parts, the input and the output, represented by conditions/characteristics ruling the system and the pattern of distribution, respectively. Previously to the learning process (train), the input is coded in a fixed length vector, in order to have generalizable models, independently of the number of components in the system. After training the network, the predictive ability is evaluated, comparing the experimental and predicted values of distribution pattern, for a set of objects that was not used during the training period (test set). In the next step, new systems/conditions are designed and submitted to the trained models to obtain predictions. The systems/conditions with higher potential of applicability in real life are tested experimentally in order to validate the trained networks. The models built include Ionic Liquids (ILs), and other compounds. The structuration of the project is modular, with progressively more generalizable models built, based on objects previously used in the construction of more specific trained networks. The construction of a database of objects will be initiated at the beginning of the project, being incorporated more data along the time. To construct this database will be used data from specialized literature on phase behaviour, where, usually is defined the composition of the phases in equilibrium at certain conditions of P and T. However the global composition usually is not explicit. This can be accessed by the definition of tie-lines and polygons, zones of equivalence where the global compositions will correspond to a constant pattern of distribution of the different components among the different phases in equilibrium. The characterization of the compounds of the mixture will be carried out using Chemoinformatic and Computational Chemistry methodology. The concretization of this generalizable methodology permits the interpretation of the results of phase behaviour and constitutes a novel tool with applicability on the screening of innovative systems/conditions in the field of unit operations at laboratorial, pilot and industrial scales.

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-30060)

Reference: PTDC/EQU-EQU/30060/2017

BioMIPs | Green strategy on the development of plastic antibodies for bio-recognition

2018-10-01 to 2021-09-30

Principal Investigator: Teresa Casimiro, NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon

This project aims to develop new particles and 3D structures with the ability to bind, like a natural antibody, to a biomolecule with high affinity and selectivity. These materials have high potential to overcome the drawbacks in biopurification and biosensors where natural molecules are used. The materials are extremely robust (plastic) thus in opposition to natural molecules no cold chain is needed, they can stand harsh conditions of pH, temperature ionic strength without losing affinity. In addition, they are cost effective since high affinity is obtained with very cheap polymers using a green technology. The project is leveraged on the previous background of the PI in the synthesis of molecularly imprinted polymers for API purification, which in combination with the members of the team from UCIBIO (expertise in proteomics) and the input of a company (CEV-Converd) to test the materials with real crude mixtures, the straight collaboration with Dr. Vasco Bonifácio (IST/ UL) organic chemist and Prof. Sergey Piletsky from the University of Leicester in a collaboration in computational simulation (SYBYL) will give a further step in the state of art by developing new cost-effective plastic antibodies for bio-recognition.

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-32473)

Reference: PTDC/EQU-EQU/32473/2017

BioreVinery | A biorefinery approach to valorize vineyard pruning waste using sustainable extraction and catalytic processes

2018-10-01 to 2021-09-30

Principal Investigator: Ana Cristina Freire, Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto

A Circular Bioeconomy is emerging motivated by a variety of sustainability challenges. The use of renewable resources to produce materials and energy vectors to meet massive Society consumption is an academic and industrial mandatory priority. Biomass valorization to added value biochemicals is rapidly emerging as the basis for future Chemical Industry. In this context, Biorefinery concept is used to define facilities in which biomass is converted through sustainable technologies into a wide range of added value bioproducts. One of the most abundant renewable resource is lignocellulosic biomass.

Wine production is one of the important agricultural activity in Mediterranean countries, including Portugal. It generates high quantity of wastes, being vineyard pruning waste (VPW) one of these wastes, with vine shoots disposed into vineyards or used for on-site combustion. VPW is a lignocellulosic resource with extreme rich chemical constituents, practically unexplored, which awakened our interest to evaluate the potential of its valorization in order to create value.

BioreVinery project, in the dual context of Circular Bioeconomy and Biorefinery concept, aims at producing bioproducts with added value through integrated VPW valorization. Taking advantage of complementary knowledge and facilities of Research Groups from REQUIMTE-LAQV at FCUP, ISEP, NOVA Lisboa,  research work is focused in development of advanced extraction technologies to obtain bioactive phenolic compounds and transform hemicellulose/cellulose/lignin into corresponding monomers; the biochar subproduct is used to prepare new (nano)catalysts for monomers catalytic transformation into platform molecules, to further upgrade to building blocks for biopolymers preparation, which ultimately is used to encapsulate bioactive phenolic compounds - Fig. 1. For this we rely on LAQV Teams to achieve the main goals of BioreVinery project: (i) to extract VPW components (from a Portuguese Wine Production Company): phenolic bioactive compounds and monomers, using sustainable and advanced extraction techniques using clean and green solvents; (ii) to prepare new (nano)catalysts using biochar, by-product from extraction methodologies, as support for catalytic active functionalities; (iii) to implement heterogeneous catalytic processes using biochar catalysts to produce: i) platform molecules and ii) corresponding building blocks for biopolymers preparation; (iv) to produce biopolymers by several polymerizations technologies using green solvents and to in-situ encapsulate phenolic bioactive compounds using advanced and sustainable techniques; (v) to perform Life Cycle Assessment, Life Cycle Costing and cost/benefit analysis to biorefinery concept applied to VPW valorization.

BioreVinery project intends to contribute to potential technological knowledge valorization and to boost up Portuguese Bioeconomy in line with Societal Challenges.

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-30884)

Reference: PTDC/BII-BIO/30884/2017

C.Cdot | Carbon Dots as effective agents in photodynamic therapy

2018-07-21 to 2021-07-20

Principal Investigator: Abel José Assunção Duarte, School of Engineering (ISEP), Porto

The aim of the project C.Cdots is the production of Carbon nanoparticles (Cdots) from wastebiomass and their application in PhotoDynamic Therapy (PDT) as effective ROS/RNS donors. PDT presents itself as an alternative and versatile technique for cancer treatment. When compared to the traditional treatment options PDT offers great advantages, such as, minimal invasion, low poison, precise operation, and nondrug resistance. One of the its major limitations is the low depth penetration of the ultraviolet or visible radiation necessary to start the process. In order to overcome this problem there is an exciting alternative with higher penetration depth, the two-photon excitation technique. Indeed, the two-photon activated photodynamic therapy (2P-PDT) using near infrared light excitation offers deeper penetration and precision in treatment as compared to the traditional PDT. Cdots are carbon-based nanoparticles that are adequate for 2P-PDT. By using Cdots is the possible to use the same synthetic platform to functionalize these nanoparticles to act as effective, in situ, ROS/RNS donors and also to quantify the radicals released in real-time in a two step pathway. Cdots have been proven non-toxic, photostable and effective photosensitizers agents that can induce both ROS and RNS using a Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) process. Throughout this project the Cdots will be produced, functionalized Cdots and tested in vitro and in vivo in order optimize the desired absorption/emission wavelength characteristics and to ascertain a possible cytotoxicity. Upon all the toxicity assays and the definition of the parameters that led to the most promising nanomaterials are ascertained, these will be tested in vivo for 2P-PDT applications. The project has the following goals: (1) Synthesis, purification and characterization of Cdots produced using wastebiomass; (2) Cdots functionalization with ROS/RNS donors 2P-PDT application; (3) Development of a new methodology that allows the Cdots to act as ROS/RNS donors by FRET and biosensors at the same time, in order to quantify the amount of radicals released in situ; (4) Evaluation of the possible Cdots nanocytotoxicity; (5) Cdots application in 2P-PDT in vivo, using mice; (6) Development of a new optical based device for 2P-PDT application optimized to Cdots optical properties.

The working plan will contemplate a consternated plan between 2 Partners with expertise in each particular area. The Research team from REQUIMTE/LAQV is involved in biosensing projects and nanotechnology field applications and have acquired know-how and experience that will allow the project to have outstanding results. The FMUP team in particular the I3S group here leaded by Dr. Rui Fontes has a profound knowledge and know-how on toxicity issues in both in vivo and in vitro and will be decisive in the PDT application.

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-30858)

Reference: PTDC/BTM-MAT/30858/2017

CECs(Bio)Sensing | (Bio)sensors for assessment of contaminants of emerging concern in fishery commodities

2018-07-26 to 2021-07-25

Principal Investigator: Simone Barreira Morais, School of Engineering (ISEP), Porto

High-level experts, international organizations, industry and civil society representatives all highlight the tremendous potential of the fisheries and aquaculture sector now, and even more so in the future, to contribute significantly to food security, adequate nutrition and employment. This is particularly relevant for the European Union (EU), Portugal and in Brazil, for Ceará State, considering their actual economic strategy, geographical characteristics, but also their traditional diets. However, the presence of contaminants of emerging concern (CECs), such as antibiotics, hormones, analgesics, psychiatric and anti-inflammatory drugs, in fishery commodities has being increasingly recognized as a food safety issue and public health threat. Actually, there are no routine analysis methods for most of the compounds and their control requires high cost analyses mainly based on liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. (Bio)sensors give a way of simplifying monitoring, making it more accessible and useable in more demanding situations. In this context, more accessible means: -portable; -useable by novice; -instrumentation which is cheaper and simpler to use; more demanding situations means: -minimum sample preparation due to high selectivity; -possibility of use in situ and real time monitoring. The remarkable characteristics of nanomaterials and nanoelectronics ensure enhanced performance of the (bio)sensors, allowing the development of innovative, portable and highly sensitive (bio)sensing platforms.

Thus, the main aims of this project are:

1)From a (nano)technological point of view:

To develop, validate and apply portable electrochemical (bio)sensing platforms for quantification of CECs in fishery commodities and waters.

2)From a public health perspective:

To provide consumers, governmental authorities and risk managers with better knowledge of CECs contamination problems in high-value fishery commodities.

3)From an environmental point of view:

To contribute to the protection and sustainable management of natural resources.

 

Chub mackerel, sardine, salmon, tilapia and shrimp are high-value species that will be characterized in this project. Species selection was based on their economic and social relevance for Portugal, EU and Brazil (in particular for the Ceará Federal State), in order to represent different classes of seafood, and also to be representative of wild, as well as freshwater and marine aquacultured species.

The project goals will be achieved by a multi-disciplinary international collaboration between REQUIMTE/LAQV, INL-International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory, and the Federal University of Ceará, Brazil. The proposal is based on the scientific complementary expertise of the partners: REQUIMTE/LAQV on fish safety, biosensor development and chromatographic methods; INL on nanoelectronics and lab-on-a-chip platforms; UFC on chemical sensors and computational molecular modelling applied to bioelectrochemistry.

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-29547)

Reference: PTDC/ASP-PES/29547/2017

CleanMemBrains | Sustainable power generation by reverse electrodialysis with novel monovalent ion perm-selective membranes with antifouling properties

2018-06-01 to 2021-09-30

Principal Investigator: Svetlozar Velizarov, NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon

Salinity gradients in nature are renewable blue energy sources, which can strongly contribute to satisfying the global electricity demand. Reverse electrodialysis (RED) is currently considered as the most appropriate process to achieve this goal. However, a sustainable power generation by RED critically depends on the possibility to exploit salinity differences between natural water bodies, such as oceans, seas, rivers, brackish waters, etc. or saline industrial effluents. The insufficient perm-selectivity towards monovalent ions and high commercial costs of the currently used ion-exchange membranes (the key process elements), combined with their rapid fouling when operating with natural saline streams are the major issues, which still prevent a successful RED implementation in practice.

This project will prepare and systematically investigate the performance of novel low-cost monovalent ion perm-selective membranes tailored to be used in RED, which will be prepared using a silylation-based process. This treatment will allow for obtaining monolayers of SiO2 functionalized with most adequate compounds on the two sides of the same membrane. The presence of zwitterionic surfaces will simultaneously grant increased surface wettability (antifouling properties) and will represent a novelty, which has not been reported yet for the preparation of monovalent ion perm-selective membranes to be used in the RED process. The presence of oppositely charged groups on a single fixed ion-exchange site can provide cation-, anion-, and zwitterion-exchange properties, and; thus, offer unique opportunities to tailor the monovalent ion perm-selectivity of the membranes.

By studying and understanding the phenomenon of monovalent ion perm-selectivity as a function of membrane physicochemical properties and applying appropriate RED process operating conditions (pH, temperature, redox potential, conductivity, ionic strength, and composition of the saline streams) the project will allow to identify the factors that could impair / reduce monovalent ion perm-selectivity, rationalize and mathematically model the mechanisms of their effects, thus contributing to the advance of the fundamental knowledge in the area of ion-exchange membrane processes, and, in practical terms, achieving an improved RED process efficiency and economics with avoided / minimized environmentally related hazards.

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-29579)

Reference: PTDC/EQU-EPQ/29579/2017

CO2usE | CO2 Use as Raw Material in the Production of Polycarbonates Synthesis, Catalysis and Reactivity

2018-10-01 to 2021-09-30

Principal Investigator: Ana Nunes, NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon

This project aims at developing a continuous process to produce polycarbonates directly from CO2 and biomass-derived diols. The new process will significantly increase the number of bio-based substrates that can be used towards large-scale polymers production.

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-31926)

Reference: PTDC/EQU-EPQ/31926/2017

CMILE | Nanoporous carbon-based structured composites derived from metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) - A new promising fine-tuned media for gas adsorption and separation applications

2018-10-01 to 2021-09-30

Principal Investigator: Isabel Esteves, NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon

Energy and environment play a key role in modern society. In 2009, EU pledged a 20-20-20 pack to attain by 2020. A GHG emissions reduction goal of 20% below 1990 levels was set, but by 2050, a drop aim of 80-95% is envisioned. Thus, new low-carbon hi-tech solutions, emission policies and a sustainable waste management are top priorities to meet these goals.

Upon this scenario, this proposal seeks novel approaches to current gas adsorption processes, Adsorption technology is very promising due to its benefits (low cost, simple operation, versatile processes, etc) when compared with others like aqueous amine-based chemical absorption offered commercially, highly energy intensive and with equipment rust and absorbent degradation hitches. The proposal aims to contribute to a sustainable low-carbon economy and technology by pursuing 2 goals: i)GHG mitigation and ii)the newest strategies on renewable energy sources, still barely explored, such as biogas to biomethane.

Adsorbents with high performance and capable of capture CO2 or separate it from a biogas or flue gas are vital for the efficiency and reduction of energy consumption of any adsorption separation/capture processes. Thus, the focus in the development of advanced adsorbents is the core of this proposal. The strong link between materials science, physical-chemistry and chemical engineering is quite exciting and feasible due to the synergies and complementarities gathered in the proposal.

Porous solid materials have been emerging as potential adsorbents for CO2 separation and capture applications; the most common are zeolites and carbon materials, but MOFs have arisen as outstanding adsorbents and ideal candidates for these applications. Very currently, carbon-based composites derived from MOFs have drawn increasing attention in the application of gas adsorption and separation.

On the other hand, alternative green solvents for these applications have been used in a variety of industrial requests, due to their nonovolatile, high thermal stability and solvation properties. A fresh new concept considers them as carbon precursors due to their unique features and carbon-rich nature. The structures and properties of the final carbons can be controlled at the molecular level by rational design of those precursors.

At the industrial scale, CO2 separation from gas mixtures by adsorption is highly attractive if the adsorbents available have high capacity and selectivity for CO2 adsorption. Another option that has been deeply explored is the absorption capacity of green solvents. In this proposal, a plan was built to merge the best of these 2 worlds and obtain an advanced hybrid carbon as sorption media that can surpass the performance of the offered adsorbents in industrial processes. Hence, this project will contribute to the sustainable energy production strategies of the 21st century to reduce GHG emissions, namely CO2, which is one of the key aspects of the future energy and environmental policies.

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-30326)

Reference: PTDC/CTM-CTM/30326/2017

CryoDES | Development of Nature-inspired Criopreservation Systems using Natural Deep Eutectic Solvents

2018-10-01 to 2021-09-30

Principal Investigator: Alexandre Paiva, NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon

Freezing is regarded as the best technique for long-term preserving of food, organs and even living organisms. As temperature drops, reactions slow down and microbial activity is reduced to a minimum. Although it is the technique of choice when it comes to preservation, cryopreservation poses several challenges. Water is the most common component of cells in living organisms and when temperature drops and water is turned into ice. That same component that is essential to live becomes deleterious. Water crystallization upon freezing disrupts cells in a way that is in many cases irrecoverable upon thawing, originating cell dead in living organism or organs. There are several solutions to minimize these effects such as the use of specific freeze time gradients to control the number and size of intracellular ice crystals or the use of cryoprotectants, promoting the amorphization of water thus avoiding in part or completely the crystallization process. The solution for more complex systems is the use of cryopreservant agents, however the need for high concentrations of cryopreservants are sometimes needed arising toxicity issues(1). Although cryopreservation is a high value market it lacks efficient solutions. The examples of implementation of this technique in industry are mainly in embryo, sperm and stem cell storage where a large number of cell dead upon thawing is acceptable(2).

The inspiration for the solution proposed in CryoDES comes from nature itself. Since the beginning of times that mankind has been mimicking nature in order to develop new technologies, products and solutions for everyday problems. This is especially true for pharmaceutic and food industries in the search for new, safer and better drugs and food additives. The same principle can be applied to cryopreservation. There are numerous examples of animals that survive in extreme temperature environments. Recent findings have reported the reason some living beings are able to withstand the huge thermal amplitude from winter to summer in their natural habitats. They are able to produce metabolites, which act as cryoprotectants, decreasing deeply the crystallization temperature of water, avoiding cell disrupture by the mechanical stresses caused by ice crystals and overcoming osmotic effects. These metabolites are mostly sugars, organic acids, choline derivatives or urea. These compounds have been defined as constituents from Natural Deep Eutectic Solvents (NADES) and present great potential for the development of cryoprotective agents. This will be the major focus of the workplan proposed. The interdisciplinary nature of the proposal couples biochemistry, physical-chemistry and thermodynamics to design a strategy able to overcome the drawbacks of cryopreservation by vitrification.

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-29851)

Reference: PTDC/EQU-EQU/29851/2017

Dial4Life | Dialysis membranes by design: targeting neutrophil elastase to reduce inflammation/oxidative stress in end-stage renal disease

2018-08-01 to 2021-07-31

Principal Investigator: Conceição Branco, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto

Renal disease is the most frequent outcome of diabetes and hypertension, two pathological conditions with high prevalence in contemporary Portuguese and European societies. Inflammation is a consistent finding in renal disease patients and is strongly related to worsening of patients conditions and to higher morbidity and mortality rate. In hemodialysis (HD) long-term intradialytic contact of blood with large surfaced artificial materials leads to continuous leukocyte activation, with release of oxygen metabolites and granule constituents, such as neutrophilic elastase (NE). Furthermore, degranulation of primed circulating neutrophils may amplify inflammation and oxidative stress, thus exposing endothelial cells to chronic injury by NE, promoting atherosclerosis, the main cause of death in HD patients. This application focuses on advancing breakthrough discoveries in basic and preclinical research into a new technological platform that can halt progression of renal disease. Based on preliminary results showing the beneficial role reported in the use of vitamin E-modified dialysis membranes for the reduction of oxidative stress, we hypothesise that dialysis membranes incorporating potent and selective NE inhibitors will significantly reduce the inflammatory response. Our research strategy will focus in: (i) Developing NE inhibitors for this specific purpose, which can be adsorbed to the membrane surface and display adequate stability to be incorporated into the initial membrane formulation; the NE inhibitors need to be highly selective to NE when compared to homologous serine hydrolyses to avoid off-target effects; (ii) Simulating hemodialysis, using a prototype that affords fluid management; this unique device houses a microdialysis unit that allows simple integration of bioactive polysulfone membranes with controlled porosity and thickness, similar to those used in clinical practice, prepared by spin-coating technique; (iii) Assessing the robustness of the platform using complementarity experiences that include animal models of chronic renal failure induced by (5/6) nephrectomy and LPS -induced inflammation. To address this innovative approach, we have set up a highly interdisciplinary team that comprise expertise in the medicinal chemistry of selective enzyme inhibitors, biomaterial engineering, analytical chemistry, pharmacology, pathophysiology, nephrology, hematology and clinical biochemistry. When complete, this project will afford an innovative approach to deal with the burden of renal disease, with a major societal impact by improving the quality of life of renal patients, mostly aging patients.

 

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-31322)

Reference: PTDC/MEC-CAR/31322/2017

DIETimpact | Diet impact on the prevention of chronic diseases: a foodomics approach

2018-07-01 to 2021-06-30

Principal Investigator: Isabel Ferreira, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto

Non-communicable chronic diseases (CNCD) represent a high cost to society and to the country's economy, due to productivity decrease and health expenses. CNCDs are associated with an inadequate nutritional standard, collectively referred to as the "Western diet," which includes a high content of protein, fat and cholesterol, sugar and salt.

The nutritional guidelines to minimize the prevalence of CNCD recommend increasing the intake of vegetable protein, polyunsaturated fatty acids, polyphenols, etc. However, the impact of these constituents on the body must be studied in the context of ingestion of the complex food matrix in which they are ingested, since multifactorial causes are underlying the CNCD etiology, namely oxidative damage, inflammation, adipogenesis, among others. The use of comprehensive technologies focused on the evaluation of the nutritional quality of diets enriched in these constituents, in the study, in the mechanisms of action, and in the biological response of the organism after exposure to different nutritional standards, will contribute to deepening knowledge that helps in its prevention and management. This approach, called foodomics, requires innovative methodologies that bring together different areas of research in which DIETimpact participants have competencies, namely: (i) experience in analytical methods to understand the composition of diets in fatty acids, amino acids, carbohydrates and fiber; Such as analysis of vitamins, minerals and other bioactive compounds; Ii) evaluation of bioaccessibility of nutrients after in vitro simulation of gastrointestinal digestion; Iii) application of cellular models to evaluate the protective effect on oxidative stress, inflammation and adipogeneses; Iv) advanced techniques of molecular biology.

Foodomics will enable us to assess the impact of integrating healthy foods into a "standard Western diet" model. Evaluate the effects on bioaccessibility of nutrients, protection against oxidative damage, inflammation, adipogenesis and gene expression, resulting from the substitution of meat proteins, saturated fats or refined carbohydrates in the "western dietary pattern" by healthier alternatives of local products whose Consumption is intended to enhance, such as legumes and sea fish; Olive oil and fatty fruits; Chestnuts and fruits. In vitro assays will be performed with immortalized gastrointestinal, hepatic and endothelial cell lines and embryonic stem and mesenchymal cell lines. Sequence-RNA transcriptome analysis will be used to understand how healthy foods alter gene expression.

The DIETimpact project is aligned with three of the national priority areas: Health and Welfare (food); Agro-food - Healthy and sustainable food; Economy of the Sea - Safe Foods. The expected results of the project will contribute to strengthening regional and national R & D capacity.

 

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-30322)

Reference: PTDC/SAU-NUT/30322/2017

EDCs-Seafood | Integrated Assessment of Emerging Endocrine Disruptor Contaminants in Seafood from Portuguese Estuaries

2018-10-01 to 2021-09-30

Principal Investigator: Sara Cunha, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto

Emerging Endocrine Disruptors Contaminants (eEDCs) comprise a large and diverse group of compounds that includes pharmaceuticals, personal care products, bisphenols and several other substances, well known by the adverse impacts to human and animal health. Nonetheless, there is a limited knowledge about eEDCs in seafood and their bioaccumulation and biomagnification potential in estuarine food webs and consequently their potential risk for public health.

Despite the important role that several EU projects (e.g. ECSafeSEAFOOD) have had on the assessment of emerging contaminants in seafood species in Europe, there are gaps that should be filled, including some specificities of the Portuguese reality such as: metabolization, bioaccumulation, and biomagnification of eEDCs in Portuguese estuaries ecosystems; evaluation of cooking process on eEDCs bioavailability, and risk assessment.

The overall objective of this project is to assess metabolization, bioaccumulation, and biomagnification of eEDCs in food webs of two major Portuguese Estuaries (Douro and Tagus rivers) as well as evaluate their impact on public health derived from fish consumption. To accomplish this goal, the project foresees the following actions. Firstly, the optimization of an innovator sample preparation procedure based on the use of cobalt oxyhydroxide (CoOOH) as dispersive sorbent to allow a fast and accurate chromatographic-mass tandem simultaneous determination of several eEDCs [bisphenols (BP) A, AP, AF B, E, F, P, S and Z, benzophenone, galaxolide, tonalide, EE2, paracetamol, ibuprofen, diclofenac, and carbamazepine] and their metabolites. Subsequently, representative species of different trophic levels of the ecosystems under study will be monitored in relation to their contamination by eEDCs. Bioaccumulation and elimination potential will be evaluated in vivo with two model species, i.e. mussels and seabream juveniles for eEDCs with high potential of bioaccumulation (e.g. BPS, BPAF, galaxolide and diclofenac) and other eEDCs provided by the previous monitoring. Then, the effects of processing/cooking operations on the bioavailability and bioaccessibility of relevant eEDCS found in seafood species consumed in Portugal will be evaluated. The effect of catechin addition (through green tea) to decrease the bioaccessibility of eEDCs content will also be studied, in order to suggest mitigation practices for consumers. Afterwards, the toxicological risk presented by these contaminants in seafood will be assessed. The project and its results will be disseminated by several means, including: project website, guidelines, articles in open assess in scientific, communications in scientific meetings and a final workshop.

The proposal relies on the scientific complementation and renowned research excellence in different areas, e.i. chemical analysis, biology, ecotoxicology and risk assessment. The proposed team comprises experts in all these areas, ensuring a solid scientific background.

FFCastanea | Castanea sativa shells as a new source of active ingredients for Functional Food and Cosmetic applications: a sustainable approach

2018-07-15 to 2021-07-14

Principal Investigator: Francisca Pinto Lisboa, School of Engineering (ISEP), Porto

The Chestnut fruit market is increasing worldwide, following the emergence of new chestnut based products (e.g.chestnut flour and purees). In Europe, Castanea sativa Mill is the main chestnut species commercialized. Portugal is one of the most important European producer countries, being Trás-os-Montes region the most important production area (85% of the national production/ total area of 35000 ha/ production of 19000 tons per year). Chestnut processing and consumption generate high amounts of by-products: shell, inner skin, outer skin and bur. This project is designed to extract active ingredients from Castanea sativa shells (CSS) using green technology (comparing conventional methodologies with supercritical fluids extraction). In fact, food by-products are an industrial burden requiring costly handling and waste management. Recent trends advocate added value of such materials as sources of compounds with biological properties. Through in vitro (Caco-2, HT29-MTX, Raji B, HaCaT and HFF-1 cells), ex-vivo (Franz cells) and in vivo assays (mouse and humans), the safety and efficacy of the final products developed (a functional food and a cosmetic product) will be assessed. The extracts from CSS will be characterized regarding chemical composition (HPLC/DAD/FL/MS) and scavenging activity against reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (ROS and RNS). Afterwards, in vitro tests with respect to the permeability (3D artificial model of intestine) and potential cytotoxicity and genotoxicity will be performed. Anti-inflammatory, antihypertensive and cholesterol-lowering ability will be also studied. Furthermore, different assays will be done to ensure the topical delivery (Franz cells and Raman Confocal Microscopy). In vivo tests will be performed to analyze the toxicity, efficacy and safety of the final products developed. Finally, the characterization of the final product, a cosmetic and a functional food containing the extract, will be performed by characterizing the textural/rheological properties and performing a sensory evaluation.

In order to properly execute the tasks planned for this research project, the REQUIMTE-team has the facilities, equipments and knowhow gathered by scientific papers on functional food, antioxidants, cosmetics and nutraceuticals. The CESPU team has the facilities, equipments and knowhow by the performance of scientific papers on the evaluation of intestinal permeability and clinical tests on animal models to assess toxicity and efficacy.

With this research project is intended to: 1) contribute to the agro-research with studies that will permit to use CSS in cosmetics and functional foods; 2) optimize an efficient extraction of compounds with added value from CSS, using green technologies and low operational costs; 3) valorize a food by-product, reducing waste and environmental impact; 4) initiate a new era in Portuguese research, which has not considerable expression on food by-products re-use.

 

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-29277)

Reference: PTDC/ASP-AGR/29277/2017

FloWater | Fluorecent chelators for metal ion sensing in water

2019-11-01 to 2022-10-31

Principal Investigator: Andreia Leite, Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto

In this project a new approach is presented that opens up new paths in the development of metal ion sensing materials with application in water monitoring and remediation.

The driving force of this project is the preparation of new organic-inorganic hybrid materials that allow the simultaneous detection, quantification and removal of target metal ions in water sources.

To synthesize the new metal ion sensing materials we will combine fluorescent turn-on chelators and unconventional functionalized inorganic materials.

This approach will allow us to prepare new sensors that: exhibit fluorescence enhancement, instead of fluorescence quenching, have higher solubility and/or are immobilized in solid materials, in order to avoid precipitation problems, maintain their fluorescence properties while allowing their in situ application, reusability and use in the removal of metal ions in contaminated water. Moreover, fluorescence-based sensors can be used to readily detect low metal ion levels without the need for sophisticated instrumentation or time-consuming sample preparation and for sensitivity reasons chemosensors exhibiting fluorescence enhancement, turn-on, are favored over those showing fluorescence quenching, turn-off.

In this project the water samples analysis will be performed by micro sequential injection system, microSI, coupled to the detection and the use of a microSI-LOV (Lab-on valve) will enable to perform assays with micro carrier beads in a technique named bead injection.

MicroSI-LOV systems are computer controlled which allows manipulation of the experimental conditions so different determination can be obtained with no physical reconfiguration required. The use of the synthesized ligands in a flow method approach will ensure the feasibility of the multiparametric determination.

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-28142)

Reference: PTDC/QUI-QIN/28142/2017

Fluorinated Ionic Liquids: New Engineering Solvents for Separation Processes

2018-08-01 to 2021-07-31

Principal Investigator: Ana B. Pereiro, NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon

Ionic liquids (ILs) have become recognized as greener media for engineering issues due to their properties, such as almost null volatility, tuneability and recyclability. Nowadays, ILs are being applied at industrial level by different companies e.g. Petronas, Bash, BP, Degussa and Linde industrial gases. Fluorinated ionic liquids (FILs) are a novel ILs family with fluorous tags equal or longer than four carbon atoms, that can present 3 nanosegregated domains. Then, it is clear that FILs can be used as ?3 in 1? solvents increasing separation power. Playing with Van der Waals, columbic and hydrogen bonding interactions and the size of fluorinated domain will allow the development of solvents designed for specific separation processes.

The use of fluorinated compounds (FCs) contaminants is clearly to increase for the foreseeable future due to their economic value and industrial application. These FCs have a very serious impact on public health due to their global warming potential, toxicity and bioaccumulation, promoting the destruction of many ecosystems. This project aims to develop efficient technology based on greener FILs to reduce the environmental impact of these industrial processes. FILs will be applied as solvents to recover/recycle FCs contaminants (greenhouse FCs gases and perfluoroalkyl acids of industrial effluents that are persistent, bioaccumulative in food chains and toxic to various species). FCs gases are the most powerful and longest lasting greenhouse gases, and some of them have a global warming potential up to 23000 times greater than that of carbon dioxide. It is important also to consider that these gases emissions have increased up to 60% since 1990, in contrast to all other greenhouse gases, whose emissions have been reduced. Nowadays, the European regulation forces to cut the emissions of these gases by 2/3 by 2030 compared to levels in 2014.

With this goal in mind, this challenging project is based on the possibility to design and develop FILs with two main scientific objectives: 1) extraction processes where FILs are used as solvents to separate perfluoroalkyl acid contaminants, significantly reducing industrial effluents; 2) gas separation processes where FILs are used to reduce emissions of FCs gases which is the major goal of the Kigali Agreement.

This project is based on years of scientific research on FILs field which demonstrates the solid knowledge of their thermophysics, toxicity, aggregation and phase behavior (1-6), interaction and segregation (using simulation and modelling tools) (7-9) and their performance in separation processes (10). This experience clearly demonstrates that the risk associated with this project is minimum and that our team have the skills and competence required to pursue the goals of this project.

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-29737)

Reference: PTDC/EQU-EQU/29737/2017

FoodSmartTag | Novel Anthocyanin-Based Smart Sensors for Food Packaging

2018-10-20 to 2021-10-19

Principal Investigator: Luís Serra Cruz, Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto

FOOD PACKAGING - a sustainable technological opportunity

Nowadays, there is an increasing concern about the safety, quality and shelf-life of food products. The development of fully biodegradable smart packages that provide information on food conditioning to the consumer are gaining attention. Intelligent packaging is defined as a food packaging system that can monitor and inform food conditions to consumers, in real time, through the incorporation of active species that are triggered by an external stimuli (pH, water, O2). Since pH change is an important factor to report spoilage in many food products, the use of plant-based pH sensitive dyes such as anthocyanins (ANC) is currently of great interest for food packaging applications as pH-sensors, instead of synthetic ones, because of their low toxicity and high biocompatibility.

THE GOAL - to use anthocyanin chemical features

One of the most fascinating properties associated with ANC is their pH-dependent color variation in solution under different equilibrium forms (Figure 1): they are red at low pH values, colorless and pale yellow at moderately acid to neutral and blue at basic pH values. However, the use of their native forms in food packaging is somehow limited because their color variation in the pH range of food spoilage (pH 5-7) is not very noticeable. To overcome these issues, development of chemical transformations of ANC, obtained from recycling of food industry by-products, is intended in order to have a wider color variation within the pH of spoilage food and to produce efficient pH-sensors (Figure 2). Furthermore, the fine-tuning of their equilibrium constants (pKa, pKh) will be done by host-guest complexes (e.g. cucurbiturils, micelles) to obtain a specific sensor range for a food product. In order to limit the reactivity of the produced sensors with the matrix and to allow a controlled release to external media, encapsulation process will be studied considering different biomaterials. The incorporation of adequate anthocyanin-based pH-sensors in food packaging with perceptive color variation within the food spoilage pH-window will be a crucial development to give a real-time qualitative information to consumer about food shelf-life.

THE RESEARCH PLAN - the team know-how to reach new products

This project includes ANC extraction, chemical transformations, physical-chemical characterization, biological studies, encapsulation and incorporation in biopolymeric layers. The PI has more than 10 years of experience on ANC extraction from sustainable food wastes, as well as in the synthesis of ANC derivatives and study of their chromatic properties. This project will be carried out in collaboration with Prof. Pina (FCT-UNL), expert in the physical-chemical characterization of ANC compounds and with Dr. Tedim (CICECO-UA), an experienced researcher in the development of smart nanostructured materials loaded with active species for application in functional coatings.

 

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-31250)

Reference: PTDC/OCE-ETA/31250/2017

GlyGold | Design of new gold catalysts for glycerol transformation into value-added products

2018-07-01 to 2021-06-30

Principal Investigator: Salete Balula, Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto

The large amount of glycerol resulted from the biodiesel production is an actual problem for the economic viability of this industry. The valorisation of this highly functionalized molecule is essential to ensure the sustainability of the biodiesel sector. Therefore, the search for more active and selective processes to transform glycerol into high-value fine chemicals is crucial. The selective oxidation of glycerol is of high interest since some oxidation products have numerous commercial applications (e.g, dihydroxyacetone, tartronic acid; glyceric acid, etc), although no oxidation process of glycerol has yet reached the industrial scale.

This project aims to develop new clean technological processes capable to oxidize selectively the glycerol in to products with enormous commercial applications. The heterogeneous catalytic oxidation of glycerol using green oxidant such as molecular oxygen in liquid water will offer a suitable, environmentally benign alternative to traditional processes that use harmful organic solvents and expensive inorganic oxidants.

Strategic novel heterogeneous catalysts based on gold composites will be prepared and tested as promising selective catalysts for glycerol oxidation. The efficiency of gold nanoparticles (NPs) for alcohol oxidation is well described in the literature. Strategic porous Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs) will act as support materials for gold NPs. These present a high surface area and well defined pore structure that will be used for the stabilization of gold NPs with adjustable size. MOFs will be synthesized choosing appropriate organic ligands and metal centres to originate solids with cavities of predefined shapes and functionalities.

The optimization of guest and host properties will be performed to achieve high loading of NPs inside MOFs cavities and homogeneously dispersed. These properties will guaranty the highest efficiency of the catalysts. The application of these gold catalysts will be a novelty for the glycerol oxidative systems.

The research team integrates essentially young and highly motivated members that combine expertise in different areas that are fundamental for the execution of this project: (i) synthesis of gold NPs, (ii) synthesis of porous MOF materials and (iii) oxidative heterogeneous catalytic systems. The know-how of the research team is a strategic combination to develop novel efficient glycerol oxidation processes under eco-sustainable conditions.

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-31983)

Reference: PTDC/CTM-CTM/31983/2017

HILT | The multiple faces of ionic liquids for natural gas hydrates: Inhibitors, promoters, anti-agglomerates and synergists

2019-03-01 to 2022-02-28

Principal Investigator: Mohammad Tariq, NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon

This project aims to combine two very interesting and emerging disciplines viz. Ionic Liquids (ILs) and Gas Hydrates (GHs) technology to produce novel biocompatible systems to address the existing major energy and environmental issues such as flow assurance one of the major problems for oil/gas industries; one of the European societal challenges indicated in H2020 program such as clean energy (transportation/storage) and one of the major challenge for climate change: CO2 capture. GHs are ice like crystalline solids, which can be synthesized in the laboratory in presence of appropriate gas molecules (e.g. methane, CO2, propane etc.) mixed with water at low temperature and moderate pressures. ILs are novel class of chemicals with some remarkable properties and designer nature to tailor them for a particular application. In this project, we aim to design and synthesize amino acid based ILs (AAILs), which are known to be non-toxic and biocompatible - a big advantage in itself. We will incorporate the functionalities (e.g. enhanced hydrogen bonding capacity, interfacial reduction or micelle formation ability etc.) within the AAILs for desired applications. On one hand, if the additive (AAIL) works as gas hydrate inhibitor, it is immensely useful for the oil/gas industry to mitigate the flow assurance issue; whereas on the other hand if the added AAIL promote the rate of formation of gas hydrates; it will have the possibility for application in energy storage, separation science and CO2 capture. This project will open up the doors to develop safe and secure environmental friendly hydrate based technology for useful societal and commercial challenges with the help of smart and renewable materials viz. AAILs.

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-32050)

Reference: PTDC/EQU-EQU/32050/2017

InnovIL4SkinDrug | Tailor-made skin drug delivery biomaterials using new ionic liquids

2018-10-01 to 2021-09-30

Principal Investigator: Luísa Neves, NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon

Given the high interest on the use of biopolymers in many fields of medicine [1], this project aims to merge material design based on a microbial biopolymer with an innovative ionic liquid (IL) chemistry to develop skin drug delivery biomaterials in the form of films or hydrogels. To accomplish this objective, a multidisciplinary strategy will be followed that combines biopolymer production, organic chemistry and pharmaceutical technological challenges.

The microbial biopolymer that will be used in this project is the chitin-glucan complex (CGC), that combines the biological properties of chitin and glucan resulting into a biocompatible material with intrinsic antimicrobial activity and wound healing capacity [2-4]. Despite its valuable physical and biological properties, CGC full potential for biomedical applications has been hindered by its insolubility in water and most organic and inorganic solvents.

Ionic liquids (ILs) have been reported to be alternative solvents to dissolve biopolymers (e.g. chitin [5-9], cellulose [10] and chitosan [11-13]). By an appropriate selection of the anion and the cation, it is possible to tune the design of ILs with completely different properties. Motivated by the possibility of tailoring ILs, innovative and challenging synthetic routes will be developed in this project to synthetize ILs with double function. ILs composed by a combination of pharmaceutical drugs (anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory drug) as cation and hydrogen bonds disruptive properties (mandatory to dissolve CGC) as anion will be synthetized. This will open up the perspective of using ionic liquids not only as solvents to dissolve CGC biopolymer, but also to play an active role on the delivery of drugs through skin when present in the CGC-based free-standing films or hydrogels.

Within this project, it is expected to obtain deep knowledge on the (i) production and characterization of CGC biopolymer; (ii) design and characterization of innovative biocompatible ILs with double function (biopolymers dissolution and therapeutic properties); (iii) understand CGC dissolution mechanism using ILs; (iv) preparation and characterization of tailor-made CGC polymeric structures; (iv) preliminary assessment of the biological properties of CGC polymeric structures.

In order to successfully achieve the objectives of the project, the IR has gathered a multidisciplinary team, experienced in the production and characterization of microbial biopolymers, in the synthesis and use of ILs, in the design and characterization of polymeric structures and in biocompatibility evaluation [Farinha2005; Rosatella2016; Frade2013; Martins2016; Neves2016]. The IR has a strong background in the design and characterization of different polymeric materials by incorporation of ionic liquids. Additionally, the IR supervised two master thesis related with the design and characterization of CGC films obtained by the dissolution of the polymer in ILs [14-15].

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-29869)

Reference: PTDC/CTM-CTM/29869/2017

IonPharma4TB | Active Pharmaceutical Ionic Liquids as new platform for Effective Treatment of Tuberculosis (TB-ILs)

2018-09-01 to 2021-08-31

Principal Investigator: Luis Branco, NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon

The aim of this project is related with the development of new platforms for effective treatment of tuberculosis (TB) based on the use of anti-TB drugs as Ionic Liquids (TB-ILs). Using these innovative approaches, we expect novel TB-ILs very active in order to improve the therapeutic efficacy and bioavailability against multi-resistant mycobacterium tuberculosis (MT).

Nowadays, the pharmaceutical industry is facing a series of challenges for discovery of innovative and effective drugs against tuberculosis that still remains the first bacterial cause of mortality worldwide. The WHO has estimated that one-third of the total world population is latently infected with bacilli of MT while 5 to 10% of infected individuals will develop active TB during their lifetime.

One great challenge for next years will be the discovery of alternative strategies with old and novel drugs for control and treatment of tuberculosis particularly in the cases of Multi-drug resistant-TB (MDR-TB) strains.

The expertise of the team members in the efficient preparation of different pharmaceutical ionic liquids (e.g. beta lactam antibiotics) as well as the knowledge and facilities for detailed toxicological evaluation and in vitro multi-resistant mycobacterium studies are strong indicatives for the success of this proposal.

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-32406)

Reference: PTDC/QUI-QOR/32406/2017

Magnetic-responsive perfusable 3D tissue scaffolds for vascularization studies

2018-10-01 to 2021-09-30

Principal Investigator: Carla Portugal, NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon

This project aims the development of 3D magnetic-responsive perfusable devices, for production of in vitro biocompatible and non-thrombogenic vascular grafts, which may be used for the replacement of dysfunctional vessels. Furthermore, these magnetic-responsive devices are envisaged to prompt the design of more accurate cell models which faithfully mimic the hierarchical architecture of the native vessel networks. These cell models should allow for a better understanding of the cellular mechanisms underlying vascularization processes, being regarded as a source of knowledge, which may privilege advances of the state of the art in regenerative medicine and the development of novel clinical therapies needed for treatment of vascular and angiogenic related diseases.

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-30828)

Reference: PTDC/EMD-EMD/30828/2017

MembraneNanoDeliver | Design of tailored nanocarriers for biopeptide delivery prepared by membrane technologies

2018-08-01 to 2021-07-31

Principal Investigator: Carla Ferreira, NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon

The development of nanocarriers encapsulating drugs for controlled release has been attracted great interest for pharmaceutical/medical applications. The aim of this project is the development of a methodology for the production of nanocarriers with 10-100 nm for biopeptide delivery, using glutathione as a model drug, applying innovative membranes (modified iso-nano-porous membranes). Glutathione-loaded nanocarriers will be produced by cross-flow membrane emulsification followed by polymer crosslinking with biodegradable chitosan polymer.

Membrane emulsification has low dispersed phase fluxes [1-3], therefore suitable membranes will be studied where the active layer has few µm and and an adequate morphology. Firstly Nuclepore track-etched 30 nm membrane with aimed features, will be studied (already characterised in the research group). Then new composite membranes will be prepared with target morphology. Commercial nanoporous membranes will become hydrophobic at the surface of the active layer. Other membranes will be developed where a metal oxide active layer is deposited by magnetrum sputtering or by sol-gel on top of a commercial hydrophilic ultrafiltration membrane (ceramic or polymeric). Finally the active layer surface becomes hydrophobic.

A model will be developed aiming at understanding the transport phenomena involved on the production of water-in-oil W/O nanoemulsions by membrane emulsification and at predicting droplet formation and detachment. This model, based on Computational Fluid Dynamics and Lattice Boltzmann methods, will be further validated experimentally. On the production of nanoparticles, the effects of the crosslinker and of the glutathione concentration on nanoparticles morphology and on glutathione encapsulation efficiency will be assessed.

The innovation of the proposed project relies on the design of the innovative membranes and on the development of a model that understands the transport phenomena involved on the production of nanoemulsions and predicts nanoemulsions characteristics. The production of nanoemulsions by membrane emulsification is a topic of interest of the PI and co-PI and is the topic of an Erasmus Mundus PhD in the research group. The research team has knowhow in membrane processes [5-7], membrane modifications by sol-gel and magnetron sputtering techniques for other applications [8, 9] and modelling of mass transfer and fluid dynamics by CFD [10-12].

The scientific objectives of this project include: 1- the understanding of the relevance of the parameters of the deposition methods under study on the membranes? morphology; 2- the development of a model for understanding and predicting the transport phenomena involved in the production of nanoemulsions and 3- Successful experimental validation of the model.

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-30763)

Reference: PTDC/EQU-EQU/30763/2017

Nano Wound | A nanotechnological approach for topical administration of insulin for wound healing

2018-08-01 to 2021-07-31

Principal Investigator: Pedro Fonte, University of Algarve

The main aim of this project is to develop a nanotechnological-based product for insulin delivery, for improvement of wound healing and treatment of wound-related problems, improving the patients quality of life. The product is focused in chronic wound healing, since they present the most long-lasting and severe profiles, but it also bears great potential for enhancing the treatment of acute wounds and burns, and for other applications in regenerative medicine. The product consists in a multifunctional nanoparticle-hydrogel hybrid system for topical administration of insulin, which acts as a growth factor enhancing wound healing. Thus, insulin will be encapsulated into PLGA nanoparticles coated with chitosan, and embedded into a collagen/hyaluronic acid hydrogel. The delivery of insulin and wound healing will benefit from the synergic properties of each polymer. Insulin is encapsulated into nanoparticles under a Design of Experiment (DoE) approach, obtaining the highest loading capacity and the best insulin stabilization. Then, the nanoparticle-hydrogel hybrid system will be obtained by production optimization using Quality by Design (QbD) principles. The insulin-polymer and polymer-polymer interactions within the nanoparticle-hydrogel delivery system will be scrutinized by biophysical methods, to assess the multifunctionality and stabilizing effect of the system and more importantly its consequences to the stability and bioactivity of insulin. The administration of the delivery system onto the wound bed will be mimicked in vitro using proteases, to evaluate the behaviour of the nanocarrier and the stability and bioactivity of insulin. The long-term stability of the formulation is also evaluated. The performance of the hybrid system is confirmed by both in vitro and in vivo, cytotoxicity and bioactivity studies, performed using a cell line and animal model, respectively. Finally, the skin compatibility and wound healing properties of the product in human volunteers are evaluated to ensure both its safety and therapeutic effect. The implementation of the project relies in the collaboration of 2 of the national top institutions involved in teaching and research in the Pharmaceutical Sciences field. The scientific, technical and human requirements of the project are guaranteed, by the synergic combination of the assets of each institution. Namely, one is specialized in formulation optimization, skin compatibility studies and clinical trials, and the other in methods of characterization of structural stability and bioactivity of therapeutic proteins as well as in the in vitro and in vivo assessment of the bioactivity and cytotoxicity of the product. It is foreseen that the product developed under the guidelines of this project will be a major contribution for chronic wound healing, and a decisively improvement in the quality of life of skin wounded patients.

 

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-32610)

Reference: PTDC/MEC-DER/32610/2017

Nano4Film | Circumventing surgical removal of biofilms infected implants: a nano-based, selective and targeted approach

2018-07-01 to 2021-06-30

Principal Investigator: Cláudia Nunes, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto

The Orthopedic implants are increasingly being used to relieve pain, allow rapid fracture healing, and improve both mobility and independence of patients. However, the introduction of foreign material into the human body predisposes it to infection. The treatment of these infections has become very complicated since the orthopedic implants serve as a surface for multiple species of bacteria to grow at a time into a resistant biofilm layer. In fact, the biofilm formation is associated with one of the most severe orthopedic conditions, the implant-associated osteomyelitis (IAO). Treatment of IAO can include surgical debridement, removal of implants and long-lasting antimicrobial therapy. The demand for surgeries meant for implant removal and replacement is continuously increasing, resulting in higher costs for patients, hospitals and healthcare systems. Nonetheless, treatment failure is common. and there is a high risk of re-infection and prolonged use of postoperative antibiotics. Treatment failure rates of IAO have been estimated to range from 41.8 to 58.2 %. IAO may be caused by a variety of microorganism, however, Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is responsible for >80% of these infections. S. aureus can produce a multilayered biofilm embedded within a glycocalyx or slime layer with heterogeneous protein expression throughout. This biofilm plays a key role in bacterial resistance to antibiotics, mainly due to an insufficient drug penetration within the matrix of the biofilm and to the fact that bacteria within the biofilm adopt a dormant lifestyle, which contributes to a poorly response to antibiotics. Considering the increase of antibiotic resistance, the loss of antibiotic efficacy against S. aureus biofilms and the lack of new treatments to avoid infected implant removal, an alternative therapy is urgently needed.

To overcome the burden associated with S. aureus biofilm formation in implants and the drawbacks of conventional therapy, the aim of the following project is to develop nanoparticle-based drug delivery systems to target implant-associated osteomyelitis. The nanoparticles based on biocompatible lipid and polymeric matrix will be designed for an intravenous administration co-delivery of antimicrobial and antifungal agents. The potential of a therapy combining the antifungal caspofungin with fluoroquinolones to improve their activity against S. aureus biofilms was recently reported. Additionally, lately it has been observed that exposure to a mixture of D-amino acids, did not inhibit the growth of S. aureus in shaking culture, targeting only S. aureus biofilms. In this context, D-amino acids synthesized conjugates will be developed and incorporated in the surface of the nanoparticles system to act as target molecules and disrupt the biofilm. The expertise of the researchers involved and the combination of these new insights should lead to an effective treatment that encompasses the disruption of the biofilms and bacteria eradication.

 

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-31444)

Reference: PTDC/NAN-MAT/31444/2017

NanoSilFlavo | Use of flavonoids in the prophylaxis of intestinal pro-inflammatory effects of silver nanoparticles

2018-06-01 to 2021-05-31

Principal Investigator: Marisa Freitas, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto

Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are the most widely consumed nanomaterials, consequently raising public health concerns. One of the main routes of human exposure to AgNPs is oral, resulting in an extended exposure of the human gastrointestinal tract (GIT) to their adverse effects. Preliminary data indicates pro-inflammatory effects of AgNPs at the GIT level, but there is a serious lack of information about the mechanisms involved. Moreover, little is known (2 published papers) about the protective effect of food matrix components against the harmful effects of AgNPs. With this project we want to disclose if dietary flavonoids, commonly consumed in our diet, can protect the gut from the deleterious pro-inflammatory effects of daily ingested AgNPs, based on 2 fundamental premises: our previous results clearly shown the antioxidant e anti-inflammatory activity of flavonoids and all ingested flavonoids are expected to exert biological actions mainly at the GIT level. This objective will be achieved by an interdisciplinary working team, constituted by people with a very broad range of coordinated expertize, working together to accomplish the several stages of this project. In particular, this project will comprise 4 linked and interdependent stages:

  1. Characterization and evaluation of physicochemical characteristics of AgNPs;
  2. In vitro assessment of the effect of AgNPs in several key points of the complex inflammatory cascade (cytokines, transcription factors, prostaglandins, reactive species, antioxidant enzymes), using a 3D co-culture that resembles the intestinal environment;
  3. In vitro assessment of the protective effect of a panel of flavonoids against the above mentioned pro inflammatory AgNPs effects;
  4. In vivo study that will integrate and testify the obtained in vitro results

This project associates two of today research hot topics: nanoparticles toxicity and positive health effects of food components, namely flavonoids. Taking advantage of the previous knowledge of the research team of the project about: the pro-inflammatory effect of nanoparticles and the search for flavonoid scaffolds, related with their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, it will be possible to clarify whether and how AgNPs induced pro-inflammatory effects in the intestine and also define the flavonoids structures and consequently the type of food that will be able to protect our organism against the harmful effects of AgNPs. Taking into account that the consumption of AgNPs cannot be avoided, to find a healthy alternative to diminished their side effects, could be of extreme importance and return quality of life mostly for the people with a propensity for development of inflammatory diseases.

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-29248)

Reference: PTDC/NAN-MAT/29248/2017

Nano-TB | Nanomedicine as a multifunctional platform for the treatment of drug-sensitive and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis

2018-07-01 to 2021-06-30

Principal Investigator: Marina Pinheiro, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto

Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTb), the underlying cause of tuberculosis (TB), infects approximately one-third of the world human population (2 billion of people), representing a huge reservoir of potential dissemination [1]. In most cases, bacterium and host establish equilibrium, and thus infected individuals can remain asymptomatic for several decades and even for the entire life. However, about 10% of the infected individuals develop the disease [2]. TB causes about 1.4 million fatalities per year, being the main cause of death among infectious diseases [1]. TB infection is usually initiated by the entry of MTb in the respiratory system through aerosol droplets. In the lungs, the facultative intracellular parasite MTb is phagocytized by the alveolar macrophages (AMs), within which is able to survive and multiply [3-4].

Notwithstanding, the significant progress that has been made to reduce the global impact of TB, the emergence of drug resistant TB threatens these advancements [1]. In this context, the main goal of this project is to develop biocompatible lung endogenous mimetic nanoparticles for pulmonary delivery of the first-line anti-tuberculosis drugs specifically to the AMs, improving the therapeutic index of the carried drugs and also the lung compliance. The innovation in this proposal is the accomplishment of this objective using lipid nanoparticles made of endogenous compounds with no pulmonary toxicity, while being a potential strategy to improve the lung compliance by the replacement of the lung surfactant, which is compromised in the TB pathology. The nanoparticles will also include in their composition tuftsin, a physiological basic tetrapeptide that have shown, in previous studies, to increase the internalization of the nanoparticles in the AMs, having also capacity to stimulate the phagocytic activity [5]. Essentially, nanoparticles will be engineered to specifically release the encapsulated anti-TB drugs within the infected cells, thereby preventing the drugs? systemic absorption and the normal lung parenchyma from non-specific cytotoxic effects of drugs.

The present project represents a major breakthrough in the fight against TB by allowing the decrease of treatment duration, and consequently improve compliance to therapy, optimizing the drug regimes to fight TB and reducing occurrence of drug resistant TB.

For a successful management of the project to be accomplished in the period of 3 years, it will be divided into 4 phases. Firstly, a systematic design, development and characterization of the nanoparticles unloaded and loaded with the anti-TB drugs will be performed (Tasks 1 to 3). In the second phase, the in vitro studies will be performed at the membrane and cell levels (Task 4-5). Then, an appropriate inhaler device will be developed to the pulmonary administration of the formulations (Task 6). Finally, the safety and the therapeutic potential of the selected formulations will be tested in animal models (Task 7).

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-30624)

Reference: PTDC/BTM-MAT/30624/2017

NAQUIBIODPSA | Obtaining Veterinary Medications from Chitosan Hydrogel Immobilized Silver Nanoparticles

2018-10-01 to 2021-09-30

Principal Investigator: Anthony J. Burke, University of Évora

Este projeto visa o desenvolvimento tecnológico de novas nanopartículas à base de quitosana e prata para uso como produtos auxiliares na cicatrização de feridas em cães. Os produtos serão direcionados para a indústria veterinária, aliás comom veterinários (MV) e produtos de uso veterinário (PUV). A aplicação de hidrogéis de quitosana com nanopartículas de prata é uma maneira única e efetiva de resolver este problema.

Funding Program: FEDER através do Programa Operacional Regional do Alentejo através do COMPETE – Programa Operacional Fatores de Competitividade (POFC)

Reference: ALT20-03-247-FEDER-033578

 

NewDMFLav | Interdisciplinary in silico, organic synthesis, in vitro, and in vivo studies towards new anti-diabetic flavonoid scaffolds

2018-06-01 to 2021-05-31

Principal Investigator: Eduarda Fernandes, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto

The Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a common chronic disease in our Society. At each second one person dies due to DM worldwide. As DM is not curable, the therapeutic main goal is to control and treat it. The use of anti-diabetic drugs has significantly been increasing in Europe and Portugal is no exception. However, the average cost of these drugs more than duplicated in the last 10 years. Despite the therapeutics evolution, the currently available anti-diabetic drugs do not present the desired efficacy and are associated with serious adverse side effects. Thus, entirely new interventions to address the underlying etiopathogenesis of type 2 DM (DMT2) are required. Flavonoids have been considered a potential alternative strategy for the development of effective and safe anti-diabetic drugs. Our research group has an immense experience in the search and development of novel flavonoid scaffolds and defining their best structure-activity relationship, namely in the modulation of the inflammatory process. Interestingly, it is demonstrated that DM is associated to an increase in inflammatory markers (tumour necrosis factor, interleukin-6, etc.) and a decrease in anti-inflammatory mediators. Thus, targeting inflammation is important for the management of DM and related disorders. The noticeable inter-relation of these two pathologies, DM and inflammation, arouse our interest on the conjunction of the data that we already have on flavonoids? anti-inflammatory potential with the development of studies to promote the finding of new flavonoids structures targeting DMT2.

This project main goal is to uncover the best flavonoid scaffold to modulate enzymatic diabetic targets leading to an innovative treatment of DMT2. This will be achieved by an interdisciplinary working team, constituted by 3 research groups, with a very broad range of coordinated expertize, working together to accomplish the several stages of this project. In particular, this project will comprise 5 linked and interdependent stages: 1) virtual screening for the identification of new flavonoids acting on DMT2 targets and in silico optimization of the selected flavonoids, 2) in vitro testing of the first selected panel of flavonoids on DMT2 models, 3) synthesis and characterization of the flavonoids optimized in silico, 4) evaluation of their activity in the in vitro systems, and, finally, 5) in vivo evaluation of the most promising flavonoid(s) on animal models of DMT2. The most active flavonoids found will be patented, and considered as prototype for the design and development of potential anti-diabetic agents.

All in all, this project will provide a new light on the path to the treatment of the worldwide burden that is DMT2. It will evoke the improvement and application of techniques and processes that will clue the finding of new molecules to treat DMT2, leading to the creation of human, social and economic value, with high standards of excellence.

 

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-29241)

Reference: PTDC/MED-QUI/29241/2017

NUTRALLERPHEN | Dietary polyphenols as prophylactic agents in food allergies

2018-07-26 to 2021-07-25

Principal Investigator: Maria Rosa Gregório, Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto

Food allergy (FA) is a substantial and evolving public health issue, increasing over the last decade as an ALLERGY EPIDEMIC[1]. Recent evidence is emerging suggesting a crucial role of nutrition in the development of FA[2, 3]. The LACK OF THERAPIES, the severity of the FA symptoms and the INCREASING in PREVALENCE promotes the need to establish PROPHYLACTIC DIETARY HABITS which could stop or control an almost epidemic disease. Consumption of dietary antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables has been related with low prevalence of FA[4]. Among dietary antioxidants, POLYPHENOLS (PHEN) have strong potential as modulating agents in FA [5-11]. Several mechanisms have been already proposed nevertheless further research is needed. Used as NUTRACEUTICALS, PHEN are thought to dampen the onset of allergic inflammation, by acting on several immune cells, but concerns still remain about their real employment by the organism that assumes PHEN through diet, because of their bioavailability, gut transformation and pharmacokinetics. Recent studies proved the ability of PHEN to bind food antigens [12-16] which clearly opens a NEW PERSPECTIVE to elucidate the PHEN influence in FA. A BROAD APPROACH is therefore needed to fully understand the immunomodulatory process from INGESTION to ALLERGY SYSTEMIC EFFECTS manifestation.

This project AIMS at highlighting the IMMUNOMODULATORY EFFECTS OF PHEN through the ability to BIND TO ALLERGENS. To evaluate the impact in EGG, PEANUT and MILK FA development, PHEN-allergen complexes will be characterised to further verify their behaviour during all statements that lead to a SYSTEMIC RESPONSE, from ingestion to transport to mucosa associated lymphoid tissue, BLOCKING THE CHAIN REACTIONS which lead to mediator?s release. Furthermore, given that microbiota could influence the digestive and metabolic process and taking into account the dysbiosis observed in allergic people [10, 17, 18], the effect of GUT MICROBIOTA in the maintenance of ORAL TOLERANCE will also be observed during the DIGESTION and absorption process.

The expected results intend to establish a new basis of knowledge helping to control an emerging PUBLIC HEALTH problem, the increasing in FA prevalence. The PI strives to reach, through this ambitious project, the starting point of a new research field that encompass different types of expertise combining FOOD CHEMISTRY, ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY, PROTEOMICS and BIOCHEMISTRY to provide some important information in the NUTRITION field. Hence, to achieve these goals, the team assembled by LAQV-REQUIMNTE group with wide experience in protein-polyphenol research and polyphenol characterisation in collaboration with I3S and Immunoallergology Service from São João Hospital gather the requisites around to join the scientific knowledge needed. Furthermore, with the alliance of Horpozim, this project could also raise the added value of the fruits and vegetables cultured in one of the most important agronomic regions of Portugal.

 

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-30448)

Reference: PTDC/SAU-NUT/30448/2017

PEPALHEIRA | Whey proteins and derived antimicrobial PEPtide-based active edible coatings for ALHEIRA industry

2018-07-26 to 2021-07-25

Principal Investigator: Cátia Teixeita, Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto

The Increasing the shelf life (commercial validity) of food products, the valorization of by-products and the use of sustainable production and consumption processes are some of the current challenges faced by the Food Industry. It was in this context that "Bísaro - Salsicharia Tradicional Lda." Company, headquartered in Gimonde (Bragança) and specialized in the production and processing of meat products from Bísaro pork, has challenged us to develop Alheiras with an extended shelf life. Thus, motivated by this challenge and aware of the aforementioned guidelines to be followed by the Food Industry, this project aims to develop an active edible coating based on whey proteins, a by-product of the cheese industry, and incorporating milk proteins derived peptides that will act as antimicrobial agents. In this way, the application of this type of active edible coating is expected not only to increase the microbiological safety of the product, but also life to avoid economic losses and to expand the product into new international markets, including overseas. In addition, it is important to highlight that this project also aims at the valorization of a by-product of the cheese industry, being still in line with the strategy of applying sustainable and ecological production processes. This project contemplates: (i) Production of different peptides derived from milk proteins with known (or potential) antimicrobial properties; (ii) In vitro evaluation of the antimicrobial activity of the produced peptides against pathogens susceptible to contaminate Alheiras; (iii) Production and characterization of edible coating formulations; (iv) Incorporation of the antimicrobial peptide into the edible coating and in vitro evaluation of the antimicrobial activity of the active edible coating; (v) Application and validation in the final product (food product-coating system) by assessing the increase Alheira shelf life.

Although small and young, the team has the know-how and resources needed to successfully achieve the project objectives, i.e. incorporates people with recognized capabilities in peptide synthesis, microbiological assays, and application of peptides to (bio)-polymers. Last but not least, the driving force behind this challenge is the first company certified by IFS Food in Trás-os-Montes (doc1.pdf), knowing that in Portugal there are only about 100 certified companies according to this demanding standard, which proves the company awareness towards safe, healthy and sustainable food products. Altogether, this project presents a high potential with direct financial benefits in the development of a new product and its consequent valorization and competitiveness in new markets.

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-31798)

Reference: PTDC/BAA-AGR/31798/2017

PHENOLIVA | Contribution of olive and olive oil polyphenolic compounds to the prevention of cardiovascular diseases

2018-07-07 to 2021-07-06

Principal Investigator: Maria de Fátima Martins, Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto

In 16/17, the EU produced 70% of the total olive oil (OO) and has the greatest number of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) virgin OO (International Olive Council - IOC). Spain produced 1311 (26 PDO), Italy 243 (40 PDO), Greece 260 (27 PDO) and Portugal 94 Gg (6 PDO). In other countries, Turkey produced 100 (3 PDOs), Syria 110, Morocco 110 (1 PDO) and Tunisia 100 Gg. There has also been an increase in production outside the Mediterranean (Med) area, in countries such as Australia (21 Gg). Therefore, competition with non-EU producers has grown for markets such as China, Japan, Brazil and USA. Supervised by the IOC, an international study reveals that it is crucial to design strategies to improve competitiveness by enhancing the quality and highlighting the distinctive characteristics of oils obtained in traditional systems, by making better use of by-products and seeking new uses through research and by encouraging consumer appreciation of VOO. As VOO consumption increases in new markets, consumer preference for OO with particular health benefits will dictate sales and market differentiation. In fact, there was an increased attention followed studies showing that in populations adhering to the Med diet with OO as the principal source of fat, rates of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) incidence are lower (1).

Several works have focused on the health properties of OO polyphenols (PP)1-4. However, scientific data are required to support their involvement in health benefits and their bioactivities remain to be clarified, especially as to WHICH compounds are crucial for those benefits, HOW they behave in the body and HOW MUCH quantity is required.  A major drawback of most studies made to date is the use of OO PP extracts (1-4) that are not chemically well defined and can differ greatly depending on the cultivar and processing conditions. Progress in these studies has been prevented by the lack of commercial OO PP standards, their conjugated and unconjugated metabolites. This is where this project fits. HOW? Isolation from olive trees by-products yielding large quantities of pure OO PP and several synthesis protocols will be used to obtain metabolites likely to occur in vivo. It is our objective to study the bioavailability and the protective effects against oxidative injury in relevant in vitro systems (LDL and RBC) and in vivo of the major PP found in VOO and their metabolites. The outcome of this project will be an important step for consumer appreciation of VOO and will contribute to the identification of the PP that make the major contribution to the health benefits of VOO regarding the CVD and will provide a scientific foundation for improving health through diet. From a technological point of view, processing operations could be driven towards the optimization of PP extraction (5) by cultivar, maturity stage(6) and olive oil extraction conditions selection. Therefore, we also intend to study the polyphenol profile of Portuguese monovarietal OO.

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-32492)

Reference: PTDC/OCE-ETA/32492/2017

PhotoSAN | Photoresponsive Self-Assembled Nanomaterials for Drug and Gene Delivery

2018-08-01 to 2021-07-31

Principal Investigator: Nuno Basílio, NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon

Nanostructured materials self-assembled from amphiphilic compounds, such as micelles, vesicles, nanotubes or hydrogels, show highly attractive properties for pharmaceutical applications as drug delivery vehicles.

Considering several types of nanomaterials that can be obtained from amphiphilic molecules, unilamellar vesicles are recognized to be superior drug delivery vehicles due to their ability to encapsulate both hydrophobic and hydrophilic materials, high loading capacity and stability under diluted conditions.

This project envisages the design and synthesis of new amphiphiles equipped with functional photochromic units programmed to form self-assembled materials of nanometric dimensions in aqueous solution. Considering some of the drawbacks related with the preparation of vesicles from conventional lipid-based surfactants and, at the same time, their recognized potential, the current proposal focus in strategies that can be employed to form spontaneous and thermodynamically stable vesicles. Specifically, catanionic systems based on mixtures of oppositely charged surfactants and supramolecular amphiphiles formed from host-guest complexation.

The selected photochromic units comprise a series of appealing properties to exploited in the context of the current proposal: 1) -  Under illumination, undergo a photochemical transformation that leads, under specific conditions, to the formation of a positively charged species. This transformation is expected to modify the amphiphilic balance of surfactant molecules in a major extent, destabilizing the self-assembled nanocontainer and trigger the release of the cargo drugs. 2) - These functional units have fluorescent properties which confers self-reporting properties to the target compounds enabling monitorization in complex biological systems. This feature represents an important advantage with respect to spectroscopically silent building blocks, enabling additional characterization possibilities.

The main objective of the present proposal is the design and synthesis of photoresponsive nanostructured materials for drug-delivery. Our multidisciplinary team comprise members with recognized expertise in areas such organic chemistry, photochemistry, supramolecular and colloidal sciences and, as well, in biology and biotechnology that provides the required knowledge for the success of the project.

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-32351)

Reference: PTDC/QUI-COL/32351/2017

PlasCO2 | Green CO2 Technologies for the Cleaning of Plastics in Museums and Heritage Collections

2018-10-01 to 2021-09-30

Principal Investigator: Joana Ferreira, NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon

The conservation of 20th and 21stcentury collections is paramount for the sustainable preservation of the National and European Cultural Heritage. It also secures an important economic impact, considering the income attained by museums and the local economies. This impact is likely to be further amplified in the forthcoming years due to the growth of the tourism sector. The presence of plastic materials such as poly(methyl methacrylate), polyurethane and rubber based plastics is ubiquitous in such collections. This situation raises novel challenges in devising future conservation efforts. Unfortunately, satisfactory solutions to this problem are yet to be established.

PlasCO2 will tackle the application of Supercritical Carbon Dioxide (CO2) to the cleaning of modern materials, with the ultimate aim of developing a novel green cleaning technology for the long-term preservation of 20th and 21st Century cultural heritage. Proof-of-concept for this technology has been achieved in recent years, however, fine-tuning such methods requires a multi-disciplinary team of natural?engineering-social sciences and humanities. PlasCO2 gathers experts from these fields that share a common motivation to implement such technological advances in an economically sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. In particular, the project will explore the cleaning of poly(methyl methacrylate) and polyurethane using supercritical CO2 at different conditions, and provide accurate measurements of the visual, chemical and thermo-physical properties of these materials before and after treatment. The data gathered within this project will provide new insights on how the properties and composition of these plastic materials relate to the outcome of different cleaning protocols. A Machine Learning strategy will be employed to highlight the relationships between the physical and chemical properties of these materials before treatment and the conditions of the cleaning procedure,with the ultimate aim of providing a user-friendly computational tool for determining the optimal treatment conditions and expected outcome. At the end of the three-year project, PlasCO2 will provide novel solutions and protocols for the cleaning of 20th and 21st century cultural heritage, using an environmentally friendly approach.

What is more, the already manifested interest from museums and heritage collections will allow PlasCO2 to help rescue a number of objects unfit to display or at risk, enabling a better access to this important legacy.

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-29692)

Reference: PTDC/QUI-QIN/29692/2017

Poli4CD | Dietary Polyphenol's Role in the Prevention of Celiac Disease

2018-07-01 to 2021-06-30

Principal Investigator: Victor Freitas, Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto

Celiac Disease (CD) is now recognized as a worldwide problem, considerably affecting the quality-of-life of its patients. Given its high prevalence and lack of alternative therapeutical means to a gluten-free diet (GFD), new solutions are needed.

Polyphenolic compounds (PC) are perhaps the most important non-nutrient bioactive group in the human diet. Widely found in fruits, vegetables, grains, spices, herbs and derived foods and beverages, early reports suggested that these compounds were anti-nutritional components of plants. Nowadays, epidemiological, clinical and nutritional studies strongly support that PC have a strong potential in the enhancement of human health by changing disease risk profiles through their ability to modulate various biological pathways. Different molecular and cellular targets of dietary polyphenols have already been identified and their biological implication in a context of cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic inflammation and metabolic disorders has been examined in recent researches. Nevertheless, the significance of food PC in CD onset and progression remains largely unknown. Therefore, this project aims to characterize the chemical structure of dietary polyphenols, their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities and the underlying molecular mechanisms of their involvement in CD mitigation. An in-depth understanding of the implication of dietary PC in regulating CD pathogenesis is of substantial relevance and a prerequisite to develop an effective nutritional intervention and alternative prevention strategy to a GFD based on innovative PC-rich functional food formulations.

Herein, PC from diet (apple, green tea, red grapes, elderberries) or within by-products from food industries (e.g. wine and cork) will be isolated and screened, in vitro, on a human cell line model and on gluten-specific T-cells isolated from the peripheral blood of CD patients for their ability to modulate oxidative damage and intestinal inflammatory immune reactions triggered by bioactive gluten peptides. These will be generated upon in vitro gastrointestinal digestion of wheat gluten proteins and fractionated by preparative HPLC. This data will be corroborated in vivo using a CD transgenic mice that will be fed with a gluten-containing diet supplemented with PC extracts and pure compounds. It is also a goal to fully characterize, in vitro and in silico, the interaction of food PC with gluten bioactive peptides with particular interest in its driving forces and dependence on both structural and environmental parameters. In general, this project intends to promote high level research in some societal challenges of the Horizon 2020 program such as health, well-being and sustainable agriculture. To attend that, a multidisciplinary and specialized team was build-up involving the PI research group, some national institutes and companies and an international organization.

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and NORTE 2020 through Portugal 2020 and Fundo Europeu de Desenvolvimento Regional (NORTE-01-0145-FEDER-32287)

Reference: PTDC/OCE-ETA/32287/2017

RapidPhageSensing | Rapid electrochemical detection of foodborne pathogens using bacteriophage nanoparticles

2019-11-01 to 2022-10-31

Principal Investigator: Júlia Magalhães, Faculty of Engineering, University of Porto

In this project a new approach is presented that opens up new paths in the development of metal ion sensing materials with application in water monitoring and remediation.

The driving force of this project is the preparation of new organic-inorganic hybrid materials that allow the simultaneous detection, quantification and removal of target metal ions in water sources.

To synthesize the new metal ion sensing materials we will combine fluorescent turn-on chelators and unconventional functionalized inorganic materials.

This approach will allow us to prepare new sensors that: exhibit fluorescence enhancement, instead of fluorescence quenching, have higher solubility and/or are immobilized in solid materials, in order to avoid precipitation problems, maintain their fluorescence properties while allowing their in situ application, reusability and use in the removal of metal ions in contaminated water. Moreover, fluorescence-based sensors can be used to readily detect low metal ion levels without the need for sophisticated instrumentation or time-consuming sample preparation and for sensitivity reasons chemosensors exhibiting fluorescence enhancement, turn-on, are favored over those showing fluorescence quenching, turn-off.

In this project the water samples analysis will be performed by micro sequential injection system, microSI, coupled to the detection and the use of a microSI-LOV (Lab-on valve) will enable to perform assays with micro carrier beads in a technique named bead injection.

MicroSI-LOV systems are computer controlled which allows manipulation of the experimental conditions so different determination can be obtained with no physical reconfiguration required. The use of the synthesized ligands in a flow method approach will ensure the feasibility of the multiparametric determination.

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-31968)

Reference: PTDC/NAN-MAT/31968/2017

Realm | Reactive Learning Machines

2018-07-01 to 2021-06-30

Principal Investigator: Natália Cordeiro, Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto

Obtaining an accurate representation of reaction profiles remains one of the most important challenges in chemistry, delaying the development and optimization of novel solutions to many of the pressing issues facing today?s society, such as the mitigation of air pollutants, the valorization of waste products, the need for advanced energy materials and the establishment of economically and environmentally sustainable chemical processes. Unfortunately, the establishment of precise reaction mechanisms is a huge undertaking for both theoretical chemists and experimentalists, making the mere optimization of reaction conditions an outstanding challenge, thus hindering the design of optimal catalysts for specific applications.

In order to overcome such limitations, REALM - REActive Learning Machines - will apply Machine Learning (ML) methods to explore the chemical space, taking into account the characteristics of the reactants, (expected) products, and reaction conditions such as the presence and nature of the catalyst, and the chemical environment (temperature, solvent, etc). The ML methods selected (Artificial Neural Networks, ANN, and Support Vector Machines, SVM) will be trained using already available experimental data, as well as the results of new computational simulations to be pursuit within the project. These ML applications will also benefit from the feedback provided by experimental verification of their predictions, which will be used to refine their accuracy and also diagnose and mitigate the risk over-fitting. The models to be developed in REALM will provide accurate reaction profiles for new reactants in real-time, thus circumventing the need for expensive Quantum Mechanical (QM) calculations and/or the development of novel catalysts by trial-and-error. This will translate into a predictive computational tool which allows chemists to easily optimise reaction conditions, develop new catalysts, or plan new synthetic pathways.

In particular, the ML methods to be developed in REALM will be tested towards the exploration of the chemical space concerning the reduction of nitro-arenes into amino-arenes, relevant from the point of view of both synthesis and the environment.

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-30649)

Reference: PTDC/QUI-QIN/30649/2017

SCRAtis | 2-Styrylchromones in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis: a promising therapeutic alternative?

2018-06-01 to 2021-05-31

Principal Investigator: Daniela Ribeiro, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by inflammation of the synovial tissue in joints, joint destruction, pain and incapacity. RA strongly diminishes the patients? capabilities to perform easy daily activities. RA carries an extraordinary economic impact. In Portugal the annual costs with RA are 119.525.000 €.

The recent progresses made in the RA treatment are undeniable, especially after the introduction of biologic drugs as alternatives to the conventional synthetic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). However, treatments have low efficacy, are extremely expensive, and are flawed by potentially hazardous side effects. All these facts reason the sustained and urgent need to find effective and more affordable therapies to modulate RA and return to patients the desired quality of life.

2-Styrylchromones (2-SC) are able to regulate the immune response, mainly due to their ability to inhibit different steps of the inflammatory process cascade. Despite their known anti-inflammatory potential there is hardly any study in the literature about their potential application as therapeutic drugs in RA. In this sense, this project proposes the development of a systematic and multitask work where the main aim is to synthesize a library of 2-SC and evaluate their potential as anti-RA drugs, in in vitro and in vivo models. To achieve this goal a team with two complementary and intimately related areas of expertise was built: organic synthesis and biological activity evaluation. Such interdisciplinary work will certainly guarantee the successful achievement of all the project stages.

Overall, this project comprise 3 linked and interdependent stages:

  1. Synthesis of a complete panel of structurally related 2-SC, making structure adjustments according to the results obtained in the biologic assays;
  2. In vitro testing of the selected panel of structurally related 2-SC in in vitro RA models;
  3. Testing the activity of the most promising 2-SC in an in vivo model of RA, focusing not only in the anti-inflammatory activity, but also in the analgesic one.

At the final stage of this project, the most active(s) 2-SC found will be patented and considered as prototype for the design and development of new anti-RA agents.

This project will contribute to the finding of a 2-SC structure clearly effective in the modulation of inflammatory and pain conditions of RA. This kind of compound is envisioned as a more affordable therapy, however complying the ultimate aim, return to patients the quality of life lost during the development of RA.

 

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-29253)

Reference: PTDC/MED-QUI/29253/2017

SilaSeco | Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of Sila-Secosteroids

2018-07-01 to 2021-06-30

Principal Investigator: José Enrique Borges, Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto

Calcitriol (25-Hydroxyvitamin D3;1,25D), the major metabolite of vitamin D3 circulating in the blood, undergoes hydroxylation at C-1 in the kidneys to its biologically active form, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1,25D, calcitriol]. This natural hormone exhibits a broad spectrum of activities, ranging from its classical functions in regulating of mineral homeostasis (calcium and phosphorous metabolism), to numerous antiproliferative, pro-differentiative, and immunomodulatory activities. Most of its actions are mediated by a nuclear transcription factor known as the vitamin D nuclear receptor (VDR). The presence of VDR in a great variety of tissues and cells, including brain, skin, colon, kidney, pancreas and breast among others, makes it a therapeutic target for diseases such as cancer, hyperparathyroidism, psoriasis, rickets and autoimmune diseases. However, the intrinsic hypercalcemic effect associated with pharmacological doses of 1,25D precludes its use in therapeutical applications. This has induced an extensive effort in chemical synthesis of 1,25D analogues that display reduced calcemic activity but retain powerful antiproliferative activity. The natural side chain of 1,25D has been the main target of chemical modifications. Modifications at the A-ring and more recently non-steroidal analogs of vitamin D have also been described.

Over the past 30 years, the research group headed by Dr. Antonio Mouriño has dedicated efforts to the development of convergent synthetic routes leading to vitamin D3 analogues (http://webspersoais.usc.es/persoais/antonio.mourino/professor_mourino.html).

In this context, and as part of a collaboration recently initiated (USC-LAQV-UP; http://www.fc.up.pt/orchids/), emerged the innovative idea of designing new secosteroids analogues containing silicon units in the side chain with selective properties and low or negligible calcemic effects for treatment of cancer, osteoporosis, psoriasis and vitamin D-resistant rickets.

Taking advantage of the expertise of each team, the synthetic tasks will be performed by the PI team at UP. Complimentary theoretical studies of molecular modeling (docking), concerning the affinity capacity of the synthesized analogues with the VDR, will be performed at USC and should allow the assessment of the most promising compounds.

As far as we know, there is no publication of silicon-containing vitamin D analogues, nor groups in Portugal dedicated to the synthesis of new secoesteroidal analogues as potential drugs.

 Hence, the teams gathered in this project (from UP and USC) have the expertise and synergic facilities in the areas of theoretical studies for molecular modelling, organic synthesis and, independently, biological assays to develop the project with a high degree of success.

 

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-29059)

Reference: PTDC/BIA-MIB/29059/2017

Silver Brain | From sea to brain: Green neuroprotective extracts for nanoencapsulation and functional food production

2018-10-01 to 2021-09-30

Principal Investigator: Ana Clara Grosso, School of Engineering (ISEP), Porto

This project links health, food and environmental issues, aiming to obtain neuroprotective extracts from seaweeds of the Portuguese northern coast, through the use of green extraction techniques, such as supercritical CO2 and subcritical water. Those extracts will be subsequently incorporated in a food matrix, as a proof-of-concept. With the increase of life expectancy worldwide, the age group over 65 (the so-called silver generation) is rising. This group is very susceptible to develop neurological and psychiatric disorders, which strongly reduce their life quality and increase pressures on the healthcare system. Despite the number of pharmaceuticals for central nervous system (CNS) disorders available in the market, many of them are not suitable for the elderly. Therefore, there is a continuous need to find alternative drugs and the marine environment, as a source of unexploited bioactive compounds, is a choice by excellence. The exploitation of oceans for new drugs has been increasing in the last years and the bioactivity of marine organisms has been attributed to the primary and secondary metabolites synthesized by them. However, recent data has shown the presence of pharmaceuticals in water, including oceans, which created an urgent need to investigate whether the bioactivities reported for marine extracts are due to their natural compounds produced or to pharmaceutical contamination. So, an UHPLC-MS/MS screening of psychiatric, anti-Alzheimer's and anti-Parkinson's pharmaceuticals in the seaweed extracts obtained will be performed, which will constitute a crucial checkpoint to discharge the contaminated ones. The selected pharmaceuticals-free extracts will be tested as antioxidants and CNS-enzyme inhibitors in cell-free assays, and the most active ones will be submitted to in vitro digestion and re-evaluated using the same assays. The chemical profile of the ten most potent extracts/metabolites will be characterized by hyphenated chromatographic methods (UHPLC-MS/MS, HPLC-DAD, GC-MS and GC-FID), targeting metabolites such as carotenoids, fatty acids, phlorotannins and polysaccharides, among others. These extracts/metabolites will be subsequently encapsulated in apolipoprotein E (ApoE)-functionalized liposomes. Their stability and in vitro digestibility will constitute a second checkpoint, and the most stable and undigested liposomes will be selected for further assays, namely, permeability through an in vitro model of blood brain barrier (BBB) and neuroprotection in cell assays. Finally, the most promising encapsulated extract will be incorporated in a food product, namely, gelatin or lactose-free yogurt, as a proof-of-concept. All steps of the project, from sample collection to functional food production, will be evaluated by life cycle analysis (LCA) to assess their environmental, economic and social impacts.

 

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-30240)

Reference: PTDC/OCE-ETA/30240/2017

SmarTex4Estore | Smart Textiles for Energy Storage: From New Scalable Fabrication Processes to Wearable Supercapacitor Clothing

2018-07-15 to 2021-07-14

Principal Investigator: Clara Pereira, Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto

The development of clean energy storage technologies has been a global concern to address the ever-increasing energy demand and depletion of non-renewable energy sources. Supercapacitors (SCs) emerged as eco-friendly solutions for energy storage en route to a low-carbon future, with a roaring market of up to over $11 billion until 2023. With the global proliferation of wearable electronics new market opportunities arised for SCs, on the production of the next-generation of energy storage clothing. The current challenge relies on the design of SCs integrated in textiles or produced as fabrics. Nanosized materials are potential ground pillars for the design of high-performance lightweight energy storage textiles with improved comfort. In particular, hybrid nanomaterials based on conductive carbon and metal oxide nanoparticles (MO NPs) are a promising solution to fabricate cost-effective and scalable textile electrodes for the production of efficient SC textiles.

SmarText4Estore aims to produce a new generation of hybrid supercapacitor textiles featuring enhanced performance, flexibility, lightness, safety and long lifetime. Several strategies will be pursued starting from textile electrodes design and use of eco-friendly electrolytes until engineered design of new SC textile configurations and scalable cost-effective fabrication processes.

The main targets of the project are:

(1) Electrodes design

Novel hybrid carbon-MO nanomaterials will be produced through eco-friendly cost-effective processes. The hybrid and parent materials will be incorporated into textiles by: a) Dyeing; b) Advanced technologies.

2) Architectured design of high-performance SC textiles

Solid-state symmetric and asymmetric SC textiles will be fabricated with optimized configurations based on inputs from numerical simulations.

3) New cost-effective eco-friendly processes for the fabrication of flexible electrode and SC textiles.

4) Pilot-scale production of textile SCs & coupling with flexible devices integrated on clothing towards a fully-functional prototype.

This project combines the expertise of 4 institutions, REQUIMTE, IFIMUP, FEUP and CITEVE, with complementary knowledge that covers all the required domains.

SmarText4Estore aims to respond to the Priority Actions towards 2050 of H2020 and Energy Agencies: (i) reduce material/device cost and increase energy density without sacrificing power and life; (ii) reduce component and finished electrode material manufacturing costs; (iii) improve SCs performance and their manufacturing techniques; (iv) accelerate R&D efforts on optimizing the integration of energy storage technologies in the energy system.

This project aims on addressing the energy/power density demands of wearable electronic devices fostering innovation towards the next-generation of smart textiles for energy storage, putting EU in the vanguard of Innovation in Energy Storage Technologies.

 

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-31271)

Reference: PTDC/CTM-TEX/31271/2017

STRESSENSE | Physical and emotional stress biomarkers detection through non-invasive techniques

2018-10-01 to 2021-09-30

Principal Investigator: Cristina Cordas, NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon

Human emotions study through biomarkers is a recent field with high importance to all modern society. Imbalanced parameters to external stimuli induce stress both physical as psychological that has been related to several diseases and discordant social behavior. This is particular important for the military, in order to control the risk of their missions and avoid undesirable post-operations psychological disorders. In this project, civilian, military and business' association researchers (from FCT-NOVA, CINAMIL/Academia Militar and CITEVE) are united with the common goal to study and early detect stress biomarkers, through non-invasive methodologies (using sweat as target biological fluid), and able to operate in field with real-time monitoring and integrated in wearables. The project STRESSENSE has a multidisciplinary, experienced team, with extensive expertise in electrochemistry, biochemistry, biomolecules detection, materials and data-processing, together with knowledge associated to individuals' emotional and physical behavior. The military forces' volunteers will take part of a case-of-study that will allow making the proof-of-concept of the new proposed medical methodology. This will be based in low-cost materials where molecular recognition elements will be incorporated. The fingerprint data obtained from the samples electrochemical analysis will be correlated with results from classical bioanalytical techniques, clinical medicine routine analysis, and the volunteers' social behavior and routines, allowing attaining a pattern related to stress' risks. The sensors will then be integrated in fabrics aiming to attain wireless (or via military channels) communication wearables. The new biotechnology sensing devices to be developed have high interest to medicine and health care services, allowing the remote, continuous monitoring to stress related parameters and its correlation to the global individual health conditions (physical and psychological). This is a project where cooperative work between civilian (academic and industry) and military researchers will conduct to a high gain investigation with expected useful outcomes for society (both civil and military) and industry (innovative commercial sensing devices).

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-28390)

Reference: PTDC/SAU-SOC/28390/2017

SupraPhor | Supramolecular Photochemical Control of Fluid Rheology

2018-07-01 to 2021-06-30

Principal Investigator: António Parola, NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon

The main goal of this proposal is the construction of photorheological fluids based on supramolecular host-guest assisted photochemical reactions. Photorheological fluids are those whose rheological properties, such as viscosity or viscoelasticity, can be controlled by light.[1] Most photorheological fluids described in the literature rely on photoisomerization reactions.[2-4] Yet, less exploited photodimerization reactions have a large potential in photorheology since they involve formation of new covalent bonds allowing chain cross-linking leading to extended covalent networks. Photodimerization reactions in solution pose nevertheless several problems, such as the need for higher concentrations of photoreactive units and the formation of several cyclization isomers.[5] Using supramolecular receptors able to pre-orient the photoreactive molecules in a configuration that is conducive for photoreactions may help overcome these limitations and develop photorheological fluids operative at low concentrations of photoreactive units and with high photoregioselectivity. The photochemistry of dimerization reactions inside supramolecular receptors such as cyclodextrins,[6] cucurbiturils [7-9] or cavitands is rather well characterized [9] but its exploitation in photorheology is at its early stages [8] and embodies the essential of this proposal.

The photoreactive units, the structural vectors where they can be conveyed and adequate supramolecular receptors were identified and synthetic strategies outlined. Based on the acquired know-how of the team on the synthesis of photoactive polymers [10] and ionic liquids (ILs),[11-13] these systems were selected as matrices to incorporate the photodimerizable units. On the other hand, the team has expertise in the synthesis of several photodimerizable compounds, such as coumarins, [12-16] anthracenes,[17] cynnamic acids [12,17] and chalcones.[18,19] Cucurbit[8]uril and ?-cyclodextrin were selected as receptors for their known ability to form host-guest homoternary complexes with coumarins and anthracenes.[6-9,20]

To assess changes in the rheological properties (co-PI?s expertise) upon irradiation, a combination of three techniques was set up: steady-state and dynamic shear flow rheological measurements,[12,21] evaluation of phase transitions by DSC and diffusion coefficients by DRS;[22] and Hyper-Rayleigh Scattering spectroscopy to infer about the aggregation state of the system.[23-25]

The project develops around 5 tasks, the first two involving the syntheses of the polymer and IL-based systems; the third consisting in the physico-chemical characterization (thermodynamics and kinetics of the association; photochemistry); the fourth dealing with the study of the light-dependent rheological properties and the fifth concerning a case-specific application towards the use of the IL-based host-guest assemblies into photoresponsive liquid crystals, in collaboration with an expert in this field.[26]

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-30951)

Reference: PTDC/QUI-QFI/30951/2017

SusfishWaste | Development of a sustainable biorefinery process towards the valorisation of fish processing wastes

2018-10-01 to 2021-09-30

Principal Investigator: Pedro Simões, NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon

The goal of the project is to develop a sustainable strategy for the valorisation of fish waste streams into high value products by using green solvents (supercritical carbon dioxide, ScCO2, subcritical water, sCW, and natural deep eutectic solvents, NADES) within the concept of integrated biorefining.

Globally, approximately 167 Mton of fish were produced in 2014, of which ca. 20% resulted in by-products or waste. Moreover, the world fish supply has been growing during the last decades at an average rate of 3% per year, which is higher than the worlds population growth rate of ca. 1.7%. Fish waste consists of heads, tails, skin, gut, fins and frames, and has been used to produce fish silage, fertilizer and animal feeds, with low profit. Yet, they have an average dry weight content of 60% proteins, 20% lipids, 2% crude fiber plus vitamins and biopolymers, thus being a great source of value-added products such as proteins and amino acids, collagen, oil and enzymes.

Our strategy will be to evaluate the utility of the mentioned green solvents under different processing configurations to extract lipid, protein, and biopolymer-rich fractions from selected wastes streams resulting from the fish canning industry (sardines and cod fish). The safety and functional activity of the fractions generated using green solvents will be evaluated using recognized in vitro tools. The main milestone of this proposal will be to obtain a variety of bioactive extracts that have efficacy within of society as nutraceuticals, personal-care/cosmetics and biomedical sectors.

This project will benefit from the solid complementary experience and expertise of the research team as well as from the fact that both institutions involved are fully equipped with state of the art equipment required for the development of the project. NOVA.ID has several lab and pilot scale units operating with ScCO2, sCW and NADES, and IBET has a large range of analytical equipment (UPLC, HPLC-ESI-MS, GC-MS, NanoLC-MALDI-TOF/TOF, TripleTOF) and an Animal Cells Technology Unit with internationally recognised expertise in cell based assays development for toxicity/bioactivity assays and pre-clinical research models.

Furthermore, Susfishwaste brings together feedstock producers, which will provide the raw materials for the execution of the project - A Poveira, the leading company in the Portuguese fish canning industry, and also Pascoal, one of the leading Portuguese companies in the production of frozen cod fish - as well as a service provider - Phytatec Ltd, an industrial biotechnology company with several years of experience on providing sustainable platform solutions for full use of renewable biomass. Phytatec Ltd focuses on the valorisation of biomass into food, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, chemical and material products, with an emphasis on zero waste and environmental impact.

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-28399)

Reference: PTDC/ASP-PES/28399/2017

S-Mode | Screening of antibiotic contamination by mobile devices

2018-07-01 to 2021-06-30

Principal Investigator: Marcela Segundo, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto

Antibiotic resistance is a topic of major concern because of its widespread existence, representing a serious threat concerning emerging untreatable disease outbreaks. Nevertheless, this problem must be addressed by attacking its roots, namely environmental contamination by pharmaceuticals. For this, low cost in-situ analysis techniques are needed for fast diagnosis and immediate intervention. The main objective of this research proposal is to develop smart-phone based analytical methodologies for in-situ screening of antibiotic contamination in environmental waters. Concentration of target antibiotics from water samples will be performed in solid-phase extraction membranes, followed by evaluation of the amount of retained compounds after addition of a color developing agent or by direct analysis in case of intrinsic fluorescent compounds (such as fluoroquinolones) using image analysis. This methodology is expected to have a low cost (less than one euro, where the major cost is the extracting membrane that can be subdivided for several analysis) in order to be amenable for field implementation using a low sample amount (target volume of 10 mL).

These ideas will be implemented following a research plan designed with contingency features. First, a robust image processing algorithm to quantify analytes based on color will be developed, followed by its application to method implementation based on smart-phones and colorimetry for sulfonamides screening. Having in mind self-fluorescent target analytes, an image processing algorithm to quantify analytes based on fluorescence will be sought, with further application to the development of a smart-phone based screening methodology for fluoroquinolones. Studies concerning real samples and field application of the developed methodologies will be undertaken along the duration of the project. The scientific/technical implementation will be accompanied by dissemination of results in scientific publications, seminar, dedicated website and social networks. At the end of this project, smart-phone applications for evaluation of these two classes of antibiotics will be available for implementation with a validated analytical protocol.

Considering the different skills required for achieving the proposed goals, a multidisciplinary team was assembled. Marcela Segundo (REQUIMTE), PI of this proposal, has an extensive track record on development of analytical methodologies applied to real samples while Helder Oliveira (INESC), co-PI of this proposal, is a young researcher with experience on image analysis, proposing innovative solutions to biomedical applications. Adriano Bordalo-Sá (UP-ICBAS) is an expert in aquatic ecosystems, having a long-standing collaboration with PI on deployment of fast analytical methods for emerging contaminants. Assistance from Salette Reis (U.Porto-FFUP) will be sought for interpretation of physical-chemical properties of target compounds upon retention on the solid-supports.

 

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-31756)

Reference: PTDC/CTA-AMB/31756/2017

TNGWIKey | Tailored NanoGumbos: The green key to wound infections chemsensing

2018-07-01 to 2021-06-30

Principal Investigator: Lúcia Saraiva, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto

Solid phase ionic (nano)materials (Gumbos and NanoGumbos) are promising tools in fields of chemistry and medicine, following the significant developments on ionic liquids knowledge. They combine the physical advantages of nanomaterials with the high chemical versatility found in ionic liquids. NanoGUMBOS may keep the original properties already found in their parent materials, Gumbos, and can also provide new and improved characteristics to other molecules. The research on the NanoGumbos evidenced the possibility of preparing task specific nanomaterials with tunable properties valuable for analytical applications.

With this project it is aimed the evaluation of the potential of novel NanoGumbos designed and developed for a specific purpose, while guaranteeing their safe nature. NanoGumbos, made of unique combinations of cations and anions, gathering multiple properties, will be explored as sensing materials and sensitivity enhancers, alone or in combination with carbon dots as well as in hybrid systems with the MOFs concept.

Biomarkers of wound infections will be the targets of the trials. The interaction of nanoGumbos with functional biomolecules will provide a plataform, integrated in microfluidic format, in bench-top automated systems or point care devices.

The work plan then includes the modulated synthesis, characterization and in vitro toxicity evaluation of the nanomaterials to examine which properties contribute to their stability, tunability and biocompatibility; as well as the study of their applicability in protein/enzymes evaluation methodologies.

Green chemistry principles will be also privileged in all possible tasks with flow chemistry and automation.

The goal is to offer a sustainable generic technology, a battery of cost-effective easy-to-use products based on NanoGumbos assays, a key tool for rapid screening of wound biomarkers for monitoring of the infection status. It is expected that the in vitro screening tests developed and the knowhow emerged in the field of NPs proposed contribute to promote research leading to "safer medicines faster" with minimal environmental impact.

 

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-30163)

Reference: PTDC/QUI-QAN/30163/2017

TracAllerSens | Electrochemical sensors for the detection and quantification of trace amounts of allergens in food products

2019-03-01 to 2022-02-28

Principal Investigator: Hendrikus Nouws, School of Engineering (ISEP), Porto

The World Health Organization considers food allergies the fourth most important public health problem as it is estimated that globally 240 to 550 million people may suffer from food allergy, which constitutes a huge global health burden. Currently, there is no treatment for this condition and the recommended option is to eliminate the food or food ingredients that may result in a life-threatening situation from the diet. Consequently, proper food labeling plays a crucial role in food safety and allows the allergic consumers to anticipate their exposure. In this context, there is legislation in force in the EU (EU Regulation 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers) that requires that information about a priority list of allergenic ingredients, included in a recipe, must be provided on pre-packaged, loose and catered foods. However, this regulation is only focused on ingredient labelling irrespective of the amount of allergen in the food. This is giving rise to a proliferation of precautionary "may contain" or similar labels by food business operators to discharge any possible liability in case of adverse reactions following the ingestion of their products. This unnecessarily restricts the diet of allergic consumers, resulting in frustration and risk-taking behaviours, leading to exposure, and in loss of quality of life. Therefore, and not only for allergic consumers but also for the food industry and regulatory agencies, more accurate information about the presence and the amounts of allergens present in foods would lead to safer and more profitable conditions.

Although there are several analytical protocols available for the (semi-)quantitative detection of some allergens, reference methods are needed to allow the comparison of data between different laboratories, e.g. official control and producers? laboratories. This calls for accurate and robust methods to detect and quantify traces of allergenic proteins in foodstuff. The development of such methods relies on the search for specific receptors for allergenic proteins and/or markers characteristic of the offending food, and their integration with nanomaterials and transducers, designing new sensing strategies scarcely explored in food analysis. TracAllerSens aims to fill this gap through the design of innovative, rapid and cost-effective sensors for the detection of four big food allergens (eggs, crustaceans, fish and peanut). These will be based on two specific types of receptors; natural (antibodies) and synthetic (molecularly imprinted polymers). Applying cutting-edge approaches, new electrochemical sensors will be developed to provide an integrated solution for allergen detection. TracAllerSens will thus provide innovation and breakthroughs in the analysis of allergens, with the potential of being extended to the detection of the growing number of newly identified allergens, and anticipating legislative adaptations regarding food labelling in the near future.

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-30735)

Reference: PTDC/QUI-QAN/30735/2017

Two4Three | A small couple against the big three

2018-10-04 to 2021-10-03

Principal Investigator: Ricardo Ferraz, Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto

“A small couple for the big-three” (Two4Three) is an innovative and ambitious project where we propose to fight Malaria, Tuberculosis (TB), and HIV-1/AIDS (HIV) using Ionic Liquids (IL).

One of the major societal challenges today is the increasing resistance of pathogens against available drugs, a matter of great concern for the Big Three Diseases (BTD) - malaria [1-3], HIV [4, 5], and TB [6], according to the WHO. These diseases often emerge as co-infections, especially in Africa, but enduring in a never-ending search for the next first-line multi-target drug no longer seems a sustainable approach, as suggested by recent news:

-Malaria, wiped out in U.S., still plagues American travelers (http://bit.do/malariaUS)

-Malaria drugs fail for first time on patients in UK (http://bit.do/malariaUK)

-EU Leaders Urge Funding of Critically-needed New Tools against Drug-resistant Tuberculosis  (http://bit.do/TBresist) "http://bit.do/malariaUS"

-TB/HIV outreach finding patients in remote South Africa (http://bit.do/tbhiv)

-TB/HIV co-infections up 40% across Europe over the last five years (http://bit.do/euroTBHIV)

We intend to address this problem from a completely new perspective: combine known drugs to form IL active against HIV/TB, TB/malaria, malaria/HIV co-infections (Fig. 2). [3, 7] Such IL will act as new formulations potentially exhibiting dual action, while possessing physico-chemical properties favoring oral bioavailability, more potent activity, and absence of resistance.[3] In fact, the physico-chemical and biopharmaceutical properties of ionizable drugs are influenced by the selected counter-ion. In other words, pairing of ionizable drugs with convenient counter-ions offers a means to modulate pharmacokinetics, especially at the absorption and membrane permeability levels, and also pharmacodynamics. This may help to circumvent some drug-related challenges, as poor oral bioavailability, toxicity, or even polymorphism issues.[9] In this connection, our recent work highlights the promising properties of drug-based IL, by having developed ampicillin-derived IL active against resistant bacteria,[9] and primaquine-based IL active against the three stages of malarial infection in the human host (Fig. 2).[3]

With this new project, we wish to demonstrate that development of drug-based IL must be pushed forward, both because it will favor the recycling of many drugs currently put on hold due to resistance and/or bioavailability issues [10], and because novel ionic structures can be envisaged where a cationic drug (e.g., an antimalarial) can be paired with an anionic one (e.g., an antiretroviral) to produce organic salts as low cost dual-function drugs. This is our working hypothesis which, if proven correct, will open brand new avenues towards cheap and effective dual-action medicines against the BTD. In other words, this is a low-cost innovative approach that may yield a major advance in the control of the most concerning infections of today.

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES).

Reference: PTDC/BTM-SAL/29786/2017

VIDA-FROG | Valorisation of Molecules Isolated from Aquatic Portuguese Amphibians

2019-02-01 to 2022-01-31

Principal Investigator: Peter Eaton, Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto

In this project, we propose to isolate new antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) from two amphibian species native to Portugal. Antimicrobial peptides are promising drug candidates which typically act directly on microorganism membranes, bypassing conventional drug resistance strategies. Furthermore, AMPs can be very selective, acting on bacterial membranes but not those of mammals.

 Amphibian secretions are a rich source of diverse AMPs, since they form an important part of their innate immune system.  However, the two species targeted, Pelophylax (P.) perezi and Rana (R.) iberica, have never had the peptides in their secretions studied. This despite the fact that they are closely related to two European frog species which do express AMPs with very useful properties.

This includes a family of peptides which are the shortest AMPs discovered to date, which is a highly desirable characteristic since it greatly reduces production costs. At the same time, this very short peptide inhibited microbial growth at micromolar concentrations. Isolating similar peptides from native Portuguese amphibians would be a very significant find, leading to considerable biotechnological opportunities. We will test the activity of the peptides against various classes of bacteria as well as the parasite Leishmania. In addition, the action of the isolated peptides will be characterised with a range of microscopic and biophysical techniques to provide understanding of their modes of actions. So, in addition to testing against micro-organisms directly, we will measure their interactions with model membranes. These biophysical studies should shed light on the important topic of AMP antimicrobial action in general.

We include in our team a consultant who is an expert in the distribution of amphibians in Portugal, and another who is a chromatography expert and has isolated and characterised a large number of AMPs from Brazilian amphibian species. The multidisciplinary team also includes experts in microbiological testing, peptide synthesis, analysis of cells and membranes using atomic force microscopy, and measurement of the interaction between drug candidates and model membranes using biophysical methods. Therefore, the proposed team covers all the areas of expertise required to achieve the goals proposed.

Overall, this project will enable valorisation of Portuguese biodiversity, will identify and characterise potentially useful new molecules for human and veterinary therapy, and aid in understanding two important scientific issues, namely the understanding of the mechanism of action of AMPs, and species diversity in the population of amphibians.

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES).

Reference: PTDC/BII-BIO/31158/2017

Winput | Wine-INspired synthesis of blUe pyranoflavyliums for topical Photodynamic Therapy.

2018-06-01 to 2021-05-31

Principal Investigator: Joana Oliveira, Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto

PHOTODYNAMIC THERAPY

Skin disorders remains a life threatening disease worldwide despite of available treatments. The still considerable limitations of other techniques have led to the development of photodynamic therapy (PDT) as an alternative treatment for cancerous and non-cancerous lesions. PDT exhibits several advantages: it is minimally invasive, devoided of severe side effects, yields a good cosmetic result, and often improves the patients quality of life.

Besides porphyrins, several synthetic dye sensitizers have been developed and a few have been approved for PDT treatment of skin. One of the main advantage of non-porphyrins sensitizers is that they have been and are still used in medicine, due to their antibacterial, antiviral, antimicrobial, and staining properties on biological tissues. However, most non-porphyrin sensitizers have lambda max

THE GOAL

This project aims to Hemi-SYNTHETIZE a LIBRARY of BLUISH PIGMENTS (lambda max > 600 nm) and to use them in new formulations taking advantage of both their PHYSICOCHEMICAL PROPERTIES and BIOACTIVITY towards SKIN PDT.

THE INNOVATION

Interestingly, wine has inspired the synthesis of a large diversity of bluish pigments analogues. Due to their physicochemical and biological properties, these compounds could be applied in functional foods, pharmaceutical and cosmetics. In this project, a new area of incidence will be explored, the skin PDT. Hence, there is a wide range of scientific approaches to find better phototherapeutic agents, including those based on recycling or repositioning of well-known wine phenolic pigments used for other applications.

THE RESEARCH PLAN

The project includes extraction of anthocyanins from wine and fruit by-products, the synthesis of 3-O-deoxyanthocyanidins and their chemical transformation into a series of blue pyranoflavyliums, photophysical characterization, incorporation into formulations and evaluation of their physicochemical stability. Then, assays will include skin toxicity, penetration capacity and bioactivity in in vitro models already developed by the PI team for a simple screening of the capacity of the more stable compounds towards PHOTOTHERAPY.

THE TECHNOLOGICAL OUTPUT

This project has a clear technological goal. The best bioactives will be incorporated into SKIN THERAPY FORMULATIONS and tested in human models for their applications in PDT products through collaboration with R&D partners (COLEP). The photodynamic effect of the stable conjugates will be evaluated on non tumoral human skin cells in culture.

THE RESEARCH TEAM

Altogether, the gathered team was chosen to provide the different types of expertise needed for this project, combining WINE CHEMISTRY, SYNTHESIS, BIOCHEMISTRY, PHOTOCHEMISTRY and TECHNOLOGICAL TRIALS. This project will yield the tools for the PI to make way on a scientific research for new solutions with international impact for skin therapeutics.

 

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-29013)

Reference: PTDC/QUI-OUT/29013/2017

X-sensors | Xanthene-based optical sensors

2018-06-01 to 2021-05-31

Principal Investigator: Ana Margarida Silva, Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto

The key objective of the X-Sensors project is to synthesize highly fluorescent compounds by rational modifications of the xanthene scaffold, aiming the incorporation of these derivatives into polymeric matrices and subsequent evaluation of their optical sensing capabilities. The main innovation in the proposed fluorophores is centered on the rigidification of the xanthene platform by adding bulky groups or fused rings to improve their emission sensing properties. This set of fluorescent compounds will contain receptors - that enhance selectively and reversibly response to external stimuli - and that allow an easy and stable incorporation of compounds into sensing materials for measuring purposes. We will focus on the toxicological or environmental monitoring of gases, as well as the detection of cations and anions, in order to protect human health and local ecosystems. In daily life, people are exposed to various contaminants and harmful substances that have a strong impact on human health, either by inhalation of pollutant air, or consuming contaminated food, among others. The optical sensors as analytical tools that enable measurements through an optical colorimetric or fluorescent signal, can be an effective approach to combat the exposure of populations to these contaminants. However, most of detectors available are not very selective, have calibration problems and a short lifetime. Sensing materials which are selective and durable are therefore desirable.

This project intends to respond to two major limitations of the technique: (i) improve the classical design of fluorescent molecule through strategic mutations of the xanthene platform. These molecules will be conjugated with receptors for a selective sensing the targeted analytes and, (ii) build new functional materials with improved robustness and durability properties using the xanthene as building block or functional unit.

Taking advantage of results obtained in previous projects, the exploitation of new synthetic avenues for the preparation of high-performance multifunctional materials is the main driving force of the X-Sensors project, which will be conveniently articulated with national and international collaborations, in order to enhance the development of optical sensors for hazard analysis and risk assessment in sectors as environmental, defense and food. Furthermore, the use of xanthene fluorophores is being limited by the existence of a few commercially available derivatives and their costs are very high. Thus, the implementation of simple and easy-to-handle methodologies of the xanthene platform is desired and also commercially attractive and we believe that the X-Sensors will bring a significant contribution in this direction.

Funding Program: National Funding (FCT/MCTES) and FEDER through the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-29426)

Reference: PTDC/QUI-QOR/29426/2017

Funded projects in which LAQV is a participant

AntiBUGS_Cath | PTDC/BTM-SAL/29335/2017 | Maria Helena Fernandes, Faculty of Dental Medicine, University of Porto | - 10/2021

AntINFECT | POCI-01-0145-FEDER-31781 | Paula Gomes, Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto | - 06/2021

BeeHappy | POCI-01-0145-FEDER-29871 | Isabel Mafra, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto | - 05/2021

BioAdhePepGel | PTDC/QUI-QOR/29015/2017 | David Pereira, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto | - 09/2021

BioP&FoodP | POCI-01-0145-FEDER-30154 | David Pereira, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto | - 09/2021

Cdots Biosensing COVID19 | 041_596518523 | Helena Gonçalves, Abel Duarte, Polytechnic of Porto – School of Engineering (ISEP), and Eulália Pereira, Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto | - 06/2020

CoalMine | POCI-01-0145-FEDER-30138 | Catarina Mansilha, National Institute of Health Dr. Ricardo Jorge | - 09/2021

E-print | PTDC/FIS-MAC/28157/2017 | José Esperança, NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon | - 09/2021

Fluorescence Nanomaterials | PTDC/QUI-QFI/32007/2017 | João Lima, NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon | - 08/2021

FOAM4ENER | POCI-01-0145-FEDER-28299 | Ana Cristina Freire, Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto | - 08/2021

FoodSmarTag | PTDC/OCE-ETA/31250/2017 | Nuno Basílio, NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon | - 10/2021

GreenTreat | NORTE-01-0145-FEDER-31567 | Angelina Pena, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Coimbra | - 09/2021

Ideas4Life | POCI-01-0145-FEDER-29305 | Carmen Diniz, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto | - 07/2021

iDrugCF | PTDC/MED-QUI/28800/2017 | Daniel Santos, Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto | - 09/2021

IonCytDevice | PTDC/BTA-BTA/31106/2017 | José Esperança, NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon | - 07/2021

Membrane-based fluorescence platform | PTDC/CTA-AMB/31559/2017 | Carla Portugal, NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon | - 07/2021

mFAOD | PTDC/BIA-BQM/29570/2017 | Daniel Santos, Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto | - 09/2021

MOBFOOD | LISBOA-01-0247-FEDER-024524 | João Paulo Crespo and Carla Brazinha, NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon | - 11/2020

MOR2020 | PTDC/OCE-ETA/32567/2017 | Miguel Faria, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto | - 09/2021

NanofibrouS MembrAnes | PTDC/CTM-CTM/31924/2017 | Carla Portugal, NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon | - 07/2021

Nanomode | PTDC/NAN-MAT/30589/2017 | Eulália Pereira, Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto | - 09/2021

NanoWar2UrCancer | PTDC/MED-QUI/29800/2017 | João Prior, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto | - 07/2021

Polyphenols in Art | PTDC/QUI-OUT/29925/2017 | Natércia Teixeira, Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto and Maria João Melo, NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon | - 06/2021

PORPLANTSURF | POCI-01-0145-FEDER-029785 | Susana Casal, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto | - 09/2021

Refrigerador | POCI-01-0145-FEDER-31575 | Clara Pereira, Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto | - 07/2021

Tackling-MDR | PTDC/MED-QUI/30591/2017 | Daniel Santos, Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto | - 09/2021

COST Actions

Brillouin Light Scattering Microspectroscopy for Biological and Biomedical Research and Applications

2017-02-28 to 2021-02-27

National Management Committee Member: Cláudia Nunes, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto

LAQV Role: Partner

This BioBrillouin Action will establish a collaborative network of European researchers and instrument developers working in the field of Brillouin Light Scattering Spectroscopy (BLSS) applied to life sciences and health related problems. BLSS uses visible or infrared light from a laser source to probe the mechanics of a material through light scattering from thermally induced acoustic modes. It can give access to the viscoelasticity and structure of matter in a non-destructive contactless way, and when coupled to optical (confocal) microscopy, has proven to be particularly well suited for biomedical applications. Though an established tool in condensed matter physics, only more recently has BLSS seen promising applications in the life sciences and medical diagnostics. This can largely be attributed to advances in instrument (spectrometer) design coupled with increasing interest in the biomechanics of cells and tissues and their relation to disease, underlying genetics and biochemistry. There are now a significant and increasing number of researchers actively working in BLSS for biomedical research in Europe. It is the aim of the BioBrillouin Action to for the first time bring together the diverse community working in the field, which includes instrument developers, physicists, chemists, biologists and clinicians, with the core aim of stimulating collaboration, promoting technological advancement and paving the way towards routine life science research and clinical applications of BLSS.

Funding Program: COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) action

Reference: CA16124

COMFA | The Core Outcome Measures for Food Allergy

2019-11-05 to 2023-11-04

National Management Committee Member / Core Group Management / Inclusiveness Target countries conference grant coordinator: Joana Costa, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto

National Management Committee Member Substitute: Isabel Mafra, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto

LAQV Role: Partner

Food allergy is a major societal challenge in Europe. The disease affects 6%-8% of children under the age of 3 years, and 2-3% of adults and has a quality of life impact similar to other major chronic conditions. Food allergy is a major financial burden, with significant impact on healthcare, education, food and catering industries. New treatments for food allergy are in development. There is however no agreed set of Core Outcomes for evaluating these new treatments. This may prevent the development of effective treatments with marketing approvals from regulatory authorities, for food allergic Europeans.

Core Outcome sets ensure that trial outcomes are relevant to patients, clinicians, healthcare providers and regulators; and they allow trial outcomes to be combined in meta-analysis, so that new findings are capitalized on as soon as possible. The Core Outcome Measures for Food Allergy (COMFA) project is a multidisciplinary network involving all relevant stakeholders aiming to advance food allergy research and innovation by (a) defining the scope and applicability of food allergy Core Outcome sets; (b) developing Core Outcome sets and measurement tools for food allergy; (c) reaching a consensus on terminology and definitions of measurement properties for food allergy Core Outcomes.

This project addresses the Societal Challenges in Health by improving our understanding of health and our ability to reliably monitor health outcomes, and demonstrates new options for healthcare delivery. The outcomes will help improve the quality of clinical trials, and the Action will advance the career of young researchers, strengthening Europe's leading position in pharmaceutical sciences.

Funding Program: COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) action

Reference: CA18227

Green Chemical Engineering Network Towards Upscaling Sustainable Processes

2019-10-14 to 2023-10-13

Ana Rita Duarte, NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon

LAQV Role: Coordinator

The objective of this COST action is to promote and boost the industrial application of green chemistry and sustainable technologies, developing the tools for the scale-up and implementation of emerging processes into industry. This can only be successfully achieved through the connection of working groups in emergent areas such as: best use of raw materials; use of clean solvents; efficient use of energy and production of minimal amount of waste. The development of novel processes and high added value products from the integration of highly innovative technologies has been pursued and it is the objective of different programs and projects. Within these settings, GREENERING arises to provide tools and knowledge to the participants enabling them to be highly competitive in new breakthrough developments. To achieve this, the GREENERING consortium will gather experts from academia, industry and technology transfer institutions with the aim to: i) create a network with common interests; ii) create working groups to influence decision makers and stakeholders in adopting sustainable processes; iii) create competitive consortiums able to apply to H2020 competitive calls and iv) increase the entrepreneurial mindset of researchers and particularly young students who with their youth and wilful energy will be able to transpose technology into products. Additionally this COST action will aim to provide long-term collaborations between academic institutions and companies which will ultimately result in the implementation of green processes at industrial scale and transfer of specialized technology into the market, being fully aligned with Europe’s interest in creating highly competitive sustainable companies.

Funding Program: COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) action

Reference: CA18224

International Nucleome Consortium

2019-05-13 to 2023-05-12

National Management Committee Member Substitute: Joana Costa, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto

LAQV Role: Partner

The genomic revolution has been a unidimensional one. Chromosome maps, sequences, polymorphism databases, the wealth of information that has been and continues to be gained from genomic studies exists independently of the cellular context. Yet our genome lives as a three-dimensional object intricately folded and packaged in the cell nucleus, structured around nuclear bodies and landmarks, acted upon by countless force-generating nano-machines. Ultimately then, understanding how the genome works requires elucidating the structure-activity relationships of the cell nucleus as a complex, dynamics biological system. No doubt this is an ambitious task. But it is also one of the most exciting challenges now facing biomedical research. With the recent advances that have been made in microscopy, biochemistry and modeling, tackling this challenge requires concertation on a global scale. The field is now attracting more and more people with very diverse expertise (biologists, physicists, mathematician, statisticians, data scientists). It is also ripe for technology transfer and production through creation of start-ups. Consequently the huge amount of data produced in modern laboratories requires extensive numerical analysis and modelling to be correctly analysed and knowledge of physical principles to be interpreted and applied. The International Nucleome Consortium will establish a worldwide community of cooperation among multi-disciplinary nucleome scientists to accelerate scientific breakthroughs leading to new concepts, innovative interdisciplinary approaches and realistic applications for health, agriculture and industry. The consortium aims at maintaining Europe’s leading position in this quickly developing and exciting field.

Funding Program: COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) action

Reference: CA18127

Mechanochemistry for Sustainable Industry

2019-02-27 to 2023-02-26

National Management Committee Member: Clara Gomes, NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), Lisbon

LAQV Role: Partner

The present COST Action focuses on the great promise, and unexpressed potential, shown by Mechanochemistry within the contexts of chemical, pharmaceutical industries, and process engineering. Organic mechanochemistry has been shown to enable the reduction, or the elimination, of solvents, while ensuring increased yields and scope of substrates compared to solution-phase synthesis, better crystallinity of final products, and access to products that can be formed only under mechanical activation conditions. This COST Action aims at establishing a multi-disciplinary network of European scientists, engineers, technologists, entrepreneurs, industrialists and investors addressing the exploitation of mechanical activation in the production of chemicals through sustainable and economically convenient practices on the medium and large scales. Specifically, this Action addresses the objective of harmonizing fundamental and applied research with technological innovation and industrial needs, representing the necessary step for enhancing the impact of mechanical processing onto organic synthesis and transferring specific knowledge into the industrial value chains. The Action aims to nucleate a critical mass of actors from EU research Institutions, enterprises and industries, bringing together different areas of expertise and application. The creation of an authoritative community to promote the study of mechanochemistry and encourage its utilization in production processes will catalyze strategic advances in European chemical industry. The favorable features of mechanically activated (organic) transformations is expected to enable the attainment of far-reaching objectives connected with the development of green economy, the improvement of European market competitors’ capabilities, the innovation of process engineering, and the growth of a new generation of specialized researchers.

Funding Program: COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) action

Reference: CA18112

PlantEd | Genome editing in plants - a technology with transformative potential

2019-03-25 to 2023-03-24

National Management Committee Member: Isabel Mafra, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto

LAQV Role: Partner

A great challenge of this century is to provide adequate nutrition for an increasing global population while developing a more socially, economically and environmentally sustainable agriculture that counters climate change, biodiversity loss and degradation of arable land. Plant research and breeding are very important in meeting this challenge. Building on scientific progress, a number of genome editing techniques have been developed over the past two decades allowing an unprecedented level of precision in our control over genetic material and its corresponding traits.

This COST Action will bring together expertise from a range of disciplines to evaluate plant genome editing techniques and their resulting products from various perspectives. The findings will serve to design a roadmap for directing and facilitating applications of genome editing in plant research and breeding, which in turn will help setting R&D priorities and stimulating further cross-national and cross-disciplinary collaborations.

Funding Program: COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) action

Reference: CA18111

SOURDOugh biotechnology network towards novel, healthier and sustainable food and bIoproCesseS

2019-04-10 to 2023-04-09

João Rocha, LAQV - Porto

LAQV Role: Coordinator

Traditional sourdough bread resorts to spontaneous fermentations leading to natural selections of microorganisms, mainly yeasts and lactic acid bacteria. Such microorganisms are essentially beneficial to humans and, concomitantly, inhibits propagation of undesirable microbiota. Sourdough fermentation was probably one of the first microbial processes employed by Man for food production and preservation. Sourdough bread stills widely manufactured at farm level across Europe and worldwide and is highly appreciated by consumers for its distinct flavour, texture and healthy attributes. Through a bottom-up approach, this COST Action network brings together a multidisciplinary group of scientists and SMEs/LEs dedicated for many decades to study cereals and sourdough technologies. SOURDOMICS will exploit sourdough technology through entire value chain: from sustainable cereals’ production, through fermentation processes’ exploitation, to by-products’ valorisation in circular economy. In (1)-upstream, it aims at (1.1)-exploitation autochthonous (pseudo)cereals with good baking, nutritional and healthy attributes, while (1.2)-promoting a sustainable agriculture and preserving genetic diversity. Simultaneously, aims at contributing to develop new business opportunities to local farmers through their engagement into food processing with shared small-scale breadmaking facilities, and the integration into industrial and trade chains. Such features are in agreement with European Agenda for Food and Environment. In (2)-downstream, the biotechnological sourdough fermentation exploitation comprises several objectives: (2.1)-Design starter cultures with a wide range of biotechnological applications; (2.2)-Production of healthy and tasty varieties of bread, thus catalysing changes in consumers’ diets and market orientations; (2.3)-Production of high-added value metabolites resorting to sourdough microbiota; and (2.4)-Valorisation of by-products from cereal production and sourdough technologies.

Funding Program: COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) action

Reference: CA18101

UNGAP | European Network on Understanding Gastrointestinal Absorption-related Processes

2017-10-24 to 2021-10-23

National Management Committee Member Substitute: Sofia Costa Lima, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto

LAQV Role: Partner

Oral administration is the most common drug delivery route. Absorption of a drug from the gut into the bloodstream involves disintegration of the dosage form, dissolution of the API, and transport across the gut wall. The efficiency of these processes is determined by highly complex and dynamic interactions between the gastrointestinal tract, the dosage form and the API.

The fraction absorbed of the drug is affected by various factors including physiological variables, pathological conditions, local differences in gut permeability, the intraluminal behaviour of the formulation, and food effects. This complex interplay determines drug delivery performance and may cause large interindividual variability, but is poorly understood. Furthermore, comparison between drug absorption studies is hampered due to knowledge fragmentation and lack of standardisation across pharmaceutical subdisciplines. As a result, the available knowledge is underutilized in drug development and clinical treatment.

The European Network on Understanding Gastrointestinal Absorption-related Processes (UNGAP) is a multidisciplinary Network of scientists aiming to advance the field of intestinal drug absorption by focussing on 4 major challenges: (i) differences between specific patient populations, (ii) regional differences along the gastrointestinal tract, (iii) the intraluminal behaviour of advanced formulations, and (iv) the food-drug interface. The integration of knowledge, combined with the exchange of best practices across sectors and disciplines, will help improve our understanding of intestinal drug absorption and spur future developments in the field. The Action also aims to advance the career of young, talented researchers from across Europe, thereby strengthening Europe’s leading position in pharmaceutical sciences.

Funding Program: COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) action

Reference: CA16205