MYCO-NET² Project

Detecting drug resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis with lowcost next generation technology

Drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis. (Illustration: CDC/Medical Illustrator)

Tuberculosis (TB) is a devastating disease affecting millions of people around the globe and second only to HIV/AIDS as the greatest killer worldwide due to a single infectious agent. Within the MYCO-NET² project, scientists from South America and Europe join forces to synergistically develop novel and efficient tools to fight tuberculosis.

New diagnostics against multiresistant tuberculosis bacteria

The increasing appearance of multi-drug-resistant (MDR) strains worsens the threat to human kind with unprecedented risks. A quick diagnostic and drug-resistance-identification solution would significantly increase the chance of early and appropriate therapy.

Cell on a Gold-Nanopattern (Photo: Instituto de Nanosistemas)

Screening methods for early diagnostics and detection of pyrazinamide (PZA) resistance will be developed, using state-of-art nanotechnology, Raman spectroscopy, Lab-on-a-Chip-Devices, genomics, high throughput sequencing, and bioinformatics.

The consortium combines unique knowledge on pathogen distribution and resistance mechanisms, which will help to find factors critical for improved intervention strategies. In this way, the initiative will have a long-lasting effect on strengthening scientific and cultural ties between South American and European institutions

Partners in MYCO-NET²

The Myco-Net² project coordinator Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (UPCH) has significantly improved the understanding of the mechanism of resistance to PZA in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. They confirmed that pyrazinamidase is a metalloenzyme that can be activated by multiple metals and have a differential activity among PZA-resistant strains associated to both mutations in the coding gene and the promoter as confirmed by a variable PZAse expression rate. Most recently they demonstrated that the efflux rate of pyrazinoic acid is the best predictor of PZA resistance and estimated a very high sensitivity and almost 100% specificity.

Contact: Prof. Mirko Zimic

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The Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas (UPC) is specialized in fluorescence spectroscopy and biochemical introduction of sitespecific modifications of DNA, RNA and peptides. Recently, combinatorial methods are being employed to select high affinity ligands for Plasmodium (Funded by GrandChallenges Canada and CONCyTEC Peru). The group is also developing FRET-based highthroughput systems forscreenings drugs targeting the bacterial ribosome.

Contact: Prof. Pohl Luis Milon Mayer

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FundeSalud is a public, non-profit organization from the Extremadura region of Spain that manages research and education programs. It is assigned to the Regional Ministry of Health and Social Services at the Government of Extremadura and manages both research and education programs at the Regional Healthcare (SES) and Sociosanitary System (SEPAD).

In addition, FundeSalud works in collaboration with the University of Extremadura (UEx) and other public or private research centers, providing resources, staff and facilities to develop any biomedical research activity in the autonomous region of Extremadura (Spain).

The SES comprises 14 hospitals with around 3000 beds, 113 Community Health Centers, 420 Primary care Centers and over 18000 professionals. The Service of Infectious Diseases at “Infanta Cristina” University Hospital in Badajoz provides the highest-quality clinical care, teaching, and research in the best academic tradition. The department consists of 27 full-time professionals (5 medical doctors, nurses and technicians). The department is responsible for general infectious disease consultations, the transplant infectious diseases service, the inpatient infectious disease service (HIV, infectious endocarditis, nosocomial infections, meningitis, tuberculosis, travelers and immigrants infections, etc.), hospital epidemiology, and infection control and prevention in Extremadura (1100000 inhabitants).

The University of Extremadura in collaboration with research groups in SES provides the expertise in basic and applied research in health and sociosanitary field, including multidisciplinary expertise in clinical research, ICT, and robotics. Research Support Services (RSS) including molecular biology, citometry, confocal microscopy and massive sequencing (NGS) facilities support professionals in any biomedical research activity (public or private) in Extremadura. Additionally, offers training courses with various different techniques and their applications.

Contact: Dr. Jonathan Gómez Raja

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The Argentinian Instituto de Nanosistemas (INS) is part of the Universidad Nacional de San Martín (UNSAM) located in San Martín, Buenos Aires. INS, created in 2015, has already become a privileged space in academic training, research, development and creation whose mission is to develop original and high quality nanoscience and nanotechnology. The central goal of the institute is to generate synergy through promoting interdisciplinary research across multiple disciplines of science and engineering. INS seeks to solve priority problems for the industry and society, and fosters public engagement with science and technology. The institute takes a highly interdisciplinary approach combining material science, chemistry, physics, computation, and biology. Research topics include nanomaterials, nanostructured coatings, photonics, and nanomedicine.

The Advanced Biosensors Laboratory headed by Dr. Diego Pallarola focuses on the development of highly sensitive biosensing devices based on optical and electrochemical measurements for bioanalytical and biomedical applications, with particular emphasis on the design of nanostructured label-free detection interfaces. Ongoing projects range from the detection of biomarkers of clinical relevance to the development of platforms for studying cell adhesion processes and associated pathologies.

Contact: Dr. Diego Pallarola

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The Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology (IPHT) is an interdisciplinarily working research facility based in Jena, Germany, researching the scientific basics of photonic processes and systems of the highest sensitivity, efficiency, and resolution. In accordance with its mission “Photonics for Life”, IPHT develops customized solutions for life sciences and medicine.

Within the German funded and finalised InfectoGnostics project ‘FastTB’, IPHT has already been working on SERS-based methods for the detection of mycobacteria, where a suspension of mycobacteria is pumped into a LOCSERS device allowing for fast and highthroughput detection of purified bacteria samples.

Contact: Dr. Dana Cialla-May

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Associated Partner: InfectoGnostics Research Campus

Partners from Peru, Argentina, Spain and Germany at the InfectoGnostics Research Campus (Photo: InfectoGnostics)

The InfectoGnostics Research Campus Jena is a public-private partnership (PPP) with the aim to develop tailored diagnostics for quick, onsite analysis of infections (point-of-care solutions).

InfectoGnostics develops solutions for diagnostics of infections in human medicine, pathogens diagnostics in food safety, animal diseases (zoonoses) and safety research. Some of our industrial Partners address worldwide markets. For example Abbott is commercializing molecular diagnostics for HIV immune status and viral load in patients.