The Laboratory of Microbiology, Parasitology and Hygiene (LMPH) is an interdepartmental research group in the faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences at the University of Antwerp. The research activities of LMPH primarily focus on the following areas:
- Integrated antimicrobial screening of chemical and natural products. For many infectious diseases, therapeutic use of medicines remains the sole treatment option. In view of the increasing problem of drug-resistance, innovative drug research should be continued. Besides chemically synthesized molecules, natural products are a complementary source of chemical diversity. LMPH is actively involved in multidisciplinary networks and has a broad expertise in antimicrobial characterization of novel ''lead'' molecules using validated in vitro and in vivo laboratory models that cover a broad integrated panel of bacteria, yeasts, fungi and parasites.
- Drug resistance in visceral leishmaniasis is gradually increasing. Within the ongoing program of drug research and in collaboration with the Antwerp Institute of Tropical Medicine, mechanisms for resistance development are elucidated in an attempt to identify drug-resistance markers. For that purpose, recent clinical field isolates from treated patients and artificially induced laboratory strains are used.
- Cellular oxidative reactions: oxidative stress is the result of an overproduction of reactive oxygen species (pro-oxidants) and/or a reduced anti-oxidative defense system and has a distinct relation with several (microbial) diseases. The research at LMPH focuses on the measurement of cellular oxidative stress responses upon infection. Particular attention is given to the effects on micro-aerophilic (Helicobacter sp) or anaerobe (Porphyromonas sp) bacteria. In the frame of drug research and mode-of-action studies, anti-oxidative and pro-oxidative properties of test compounds are investigated.
- Virulence and biofilm formation: biofilms are defined as microbial populations (mostly bacteria and yeasts) embedded in an organic polymer matrix attached to an inert surface. In this matrix, the organisms become well protected against antibiotics and/or disinfectants. At LMPH, research focuses on the (virulence) factors that play a role in the formation of biofilms and the increase resistance to treatment, using validated in vitro and in vivo models for detection and quantification of biofilms and virulence factors.
- Pharmacokinetics profiling of test compounds/drugs: the intrinsic pharmacological activity of a drug is only a part of the in vivo activity since its pharmacokinetic properties (absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion) play a pivotal role. Analysis of plasma and tissue using LC-MS/MS technology allows to define the pharmacodynamics of a drug in greater detail. In addition, bioequivalence studies allow direct comparison of different administration routes and drug formulations.