Marine Biotechnology and Aquaculture Research Group

Marine Biotechnology and Aquaculture Research Group, University of Santiago de Compostela.

Galician patent to fight pathogenic bacteria filed

USC in Compostela becomes a global benchmark regarding a new scientific breakthrough in bacteria communication blockade to stop the onset of infection and as an alternative to current antibiotics

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Stopping the onset of infection in organisms and avoiding its rapid spread has been accomplished by blocking communication among pathogens. This has been Quorum Sensing and Quorum Quenching’s main goal in an 8-year-long painstakingly but productive line of research together with the Aquaculture and Biotechnology  teams of USC in Compostela, Galicia. It is indeed a great success. This startling finding has been immediately protected by filing a European, American and Chinese patent.  The outcoming product will be trading soon thanks to the interest shown by several international coorporations, which have already begun to discuss terms of licensing with the Fundación Barrié, main venture capitalist investor involved with this scientific breakthrough research. This is also part of their Fondo de Ciencia (Scientific Fund) and needless to say, Fundacion Barrié has also been working closely with Isis Innovation, a sister company, bred at Oxford University to attract more potential clients.

Manuel Romero y Ana Otero, en el laboratorio.

Manuel Romero and Ana Otero have been working on quorum quenching strategy since 2006.

Quorum sensing is the term coined to describe communication among bacteria and gene expression coordination. It is a system of stimulus and response correlated to population density, and the signals molecules transmit within certain bacteria depends on their density-number, so as to carry out an efficient attack. Conversely, the biotech strategy to block these signals or communication among bacteria is termed as quorum quenching. These signals, thus, can be interrupted or blocked more efficiently by marine bacteria with this type of activity, namely, quorum quenching.

“We found out that if we went to the sea and get bacteria, which were able to cut off this type of communication among pathogenic bacteria, we ought to be surely onto something serious… In fact, we hit jackpot once we found a bunch of them with the very same type of activity we’d been looking for. Needless to say, that sea bacteria are much more active than land batería… “, says Otero.

The strategy of quorum quenching has been applied to the EU project ByeFouling, in which the Galician team has been an active participant

The point here on was to stop the onset of infection but with a total different approach than that produced by the regular intake of antibiotics. The goal was the blockade of the coordination and association with one another bacteria and promote the development of new enzymes to cut off their communication and signals, thus, frustrating their attacks.

Likewise, the strategy of quorum quenching has been applied to the EU project ByeFouling, in which the Galician team has been an active participant together with other 17 teams of researchers from over 11 nations. The issue, at hand, is the so called Bio-incrustation and corrosion, which are responsible for the loss of many millions of euros every year.  It has turned out to be a mammoth task, year after year, the nightmare of cleaning and high consumption of fuel and so forth to get rid of the bio-incrustation and corrosion in ships ,vessels and others. Yet, hull bio-incrustation and corrosion is costing a lot of financial restraint in this sector and the increment in fuel consumption is now up to a wooping 40%, still the worst  part of all is the neverending loop of CO2 emissions going into the air.  So, ByeFouling, for instance, has been thoroughly studying the viability of new types of industrial coatings and protein inhibitors or even organic biocides and the likes of microorganisms and strategies covered so far in this article, which might hold some sort of anti-encrusting activity.


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