FCT

R&D Institutions

Resultado da avaliação 2007 na área de Ciências da Saúde

Unidade de I&D

Centro de Patogénese Molecular - Unidade de Retrovírus e Infecções Associadas [HESC-LVT-Lisboa-775] visitada em 09/04/2008

Classificação: Excellent

Comentários do painel de avaliação
Sobre a unidade
This Unit has been very successful in planning and carrying out significant research bin the field of Retroviral and Mycobacterial infectious diseases, ranging from the molecular to the epidemiological levels. Within the Unit the local collaborations were especially strong and productive and are in contrast to the compartmentalised approach that we encountered in other research groups that we visited. This Unit has developed ideas to translate observational research into hypothesis based work e.g., mathematical modelling and pathogenesis work, but this has been somewhat hindered by local research structures.
Sobre os grupos de investigação
HIV evolution and molecular epidemiology [RG-HESC-LVT-Lisboa-775-3078]
This is a small group consisting of the PI and a small number of PhD students. The focus of the research is to investigate the molecular epidemiology of HIV virus and drug resistance in strains from Portugal and Lusophone Africa. In particular there is interest in studying the phylogeny of HIV C clade which is important in Mozambique. They have completed sequencing studies of drug resistant strains from Africa. This work has proved to be important as the genetic changes mean that some HIV assays are unable to detect the circulating viruses.
The group has developed a novel method for identifying HIV-2 which has been patented and may be commercialised. The main local collaboration is with the IMM but there are no links with the group working in this area at the Institute for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. The group has a very good publication record in specialized journals.
MYCOBACTERIUM AND TUBERCULOSIS [RG-HESC-LVT-Lisboa-775-3079]
The three researchers of this group presented their main research achievements separately at the site-visit. Elsa Anes group is very innovative and has been highly successful studying the mechanisms of phagolysosome interaction with mycobacteria in particular cell trafficking. The work is of high calibre and published in high impact factor international peer reviewed journals. In addition to this basic science research the PI is engaged in a collaborative effort to develop new PZA like antituberculosis drugs that are effective at inhibiting mycobacteria in macrophages. A patent is pending from this work. Madalena Pimentel of the same group presented results of the research on Mycobacterial phage interaction. The work is intended to understand the lytic mechanisms employed by mycobacteriophages. As such this was interesting and important basic science research. The focussed approach adopted by this researcher should be a model to others. This research line has been successful in attracting funding for post-doctoral research assistants.
Maria Isabel Portugal presented results on Portugal Epidemiology and drug resistance
There is a focus on MDR and XDR tuberculosis with a significant to public health control methods. Standard international typing methods have been established through international and local collaborations.
RETROVIRUS AND ANTIVIRAL RESEARCH [RG-HESC-LVT-Lisboa-775-3077]
This was demonstratively a high quality group with evidence of publications in first rank international journals. It is notable that this group has obtained a patent and has spun off some of its research findings into a commercial company. The focus on this research is on understanding the role of VIF protein in HIV-1 infectivity. The group had elucidated several stages that were published in international peer-reviewed journals. The second area of research was on the sequence of HIV-2 protease and, although this had been successful in grant and publication terms, the group leader planned to stop this area of research to concentrate his efforts on VIF. A growing area of work is the development of antibodies that are capable of interfering with viral fusion and have the potential to be synergistic with fusion inhibiting drugs. The group also wishes to understand better the restriction obstacles confronting HIV in the cell.
The research on cellular epidemiology of HIV 2 presented by Jose Pereira is focussed on investigating the reason for the lower virulence of HIV 2 with a focus on chemokine receptors, and plans to investigate the fitness of HIV 2 strains. .
This group has a heavy teaching load and significant clinical research, and has also the responsibility for the safety supervision of the P3 facility.
The group has been successful in obtaining financial support.
The group publishes in high ranking journals that extend beyond the specialized field.