Universidad de Oviedo (UNIOVI)

Scientific coordinator & Work Package 5 leader

Universidad de Oviedo was established in 1608. It is a public institution, with more than 1500 researchers and 250 research groups, devoted to higher education teaching and research that fosters the social, economic and cultural development of the local community through the generation and diffusion of knowledge. Today, it has become the main research centre of the Principality of Asturias, a Spanish autonomous region with a population of over one million inhabitants located in the north-west of Spain. Worth mentioning is also that on November 2009, the University of Oviedo was among the eight first in Spain to be awarded with the seal of “Campus of International EXCELLENCE”. This award founds the global strategy called “Ad Futurum”, fostering excellence in research. The project clearly leans towards internationalization and collaboration with productive sectors.

The University of Oviedo has a long experience in the different Framework Programmes, with more than 50 projects in the last 5 years. Furthermore, the University has a European Research & Development Office to assist researchers in the administration of EC research projects. This Office counts on experienced staff members supporting investigators in their administrative tasks.

The Microbiology Area at University of Oviedo has been studying biosynthesis of diverse bioactive products from microbial origin (antibiotics, antitumors, nutraceuticals) at genetic and metabolic engineering levels over the last 30 years. It constitutes currently one of the most important institutions working on natural bioactive products in Europe, including F. Lombó’s research group BITTEN (Partner 3) as well as other reference groups in this area. BITTEN was created in 2008. Members of this group have 22 years of expertise in genetics and molecular biology of antibiotic and antitumor compounds produced by microorganisms. Several research projects are carried out with bacterial factories for production of bioactive compounds. BITTEN is part of the Cancer Research Institute at the University of Oviedo (IUOPA) since its creation, as part of the Program in Translational Research. These research projects are done in collaboration with diverse companies (ILAS SA, HIPSITEC SA, ALCE CALIDAD SL, BFC SA, BIONORTE SL, EL HORREO HEALTHY FOODS SL and COSFER SA among others), and include the following research capabilities:

  • medicinal chemistry (identification and isolation of bioactive compounds from microbial cultures, food and plants).

  • biotechnology (combinatorial biosynthesis of gene clusters for generation of bioactive compounds in microorganisms).

  • signalling (molecular mechanisms of cell progression, differentiation and survival).

  • preclinical and clinical trials (animal studies with bioactive compounds in diverse murine models, effect of bioactives in humans in collaboration with the hospital HUCA in Oviedo city).

Role in the project

  • To design extraction protocols for the 4,000 screened microalgae species in a way that bioactive products with different polarities and solubilities could be obtained for their use in other partners.

  • To determine the antibacterial activity of the generated extracts, against a collection of clinically isolated pathogens involved in biofilm formation (Escherichia coli, E. coli producing ESBLs (extended spectrum beta-lactamases), multiresistant Pseudomonas, Candida albicans, Candida parapsilosis, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Streptococcus epidermidis, ESBL-producing Klebsiella pneumoniae and AmpC-overexpressing Enterobacter cloacae.), determining bactericidal or bacteriostatic bioactivity.

  • To fractionate bioactive extracts in order to be able to characterize the bioactive isolated compounds in each one and then determinate their structure and bioactive profile in other partners.

Researchers at BITTEN Research Group at the University of Oviedo have as previous experience relevant to the tasks:

  • Participated in four European R&D projects since 1996 till nowadays.

  • Generated seven patents: four of them licensed to companies (three of them PCT international patents).

  • 22  years of expertise in  molecular biology and development of microorganisms.

  • 22 years of expertise in production of bioactive products in microbial cultures.