My PhD project is going to be developed under the supervision of Dr. Miguel Gama (University of Minho, Department of Biological Engineering) and co-supervised by Dr. Rui Appelberg (University of Porto, Abel Salazar Institute for Biomedical Sciences / Institute for Molecular and Cell Biology) and Dr. António Gil Castro (University of Minho, Life and Health Sciences Research Institute). Visits to foreign institutions will be considered appropriately throughout the course of the project.

Check below for a brief glance over the state of the art of my research topics:

Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis (TB) which is able to survive inside macrophages, provoked hundreds of millions of human deaths before the first antibiotics were introduced. Nowadays, at least 6 months are needed to treat the infection with a cocktail of antibiotics and the demanding administration schedules often result in treatment failure. Nanotechnology can play a major role in the treatment of TB by reducing drug administration frequency and improving the effectiveness of current first-line drugs by targeting the infection reservoirs. Natural and synthetic nanocarriers have been tested for oral, intravenous and inhalation form applications to deliver TB drugs. So far, antibiotics are the only therapeutics used to treat TB, nevertheless antimicrobial peptides have been suggested as a promising alternative to overcome increasing bacterial resistances. Actually, the human cathelicidin, whose expression is regulated by vitamin D3, is involved in the natural intracellular mechanisms used to kill mycobacteria inside macrophages.

Accordingly, the plan is to optimize nanotechnologies for the treatment of tuberculosis. In more detail, I will try to develop strategies for antimicrobial peptides delivery to infected macrophages.