For the past year, the University of Santo Tomas – Bacteriophage Ecology, Aquaculture, Therapy and Systematics (UST-BEATS) and the Laboratory of Bacteriology (Pathogenesis, Antibiotic Resistance, Bacterial Community, Drug Development) and Applied Microbiology (KaoLab) of the National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University (NYCU), Taiwan have been collaborating and exchanging methods and laboratory techniques, as well as expertise, specifically in bacterial pathogenesis and bacteriophage studies. The two teams recently met in a research visit held from February 6 to 11, 2023 at NYCU.
The research visit is part of the DOST-PCHRD funded project, spearheaded by the group, focusing on biocontrol application of bacteriophages against foodborne pathogens. This project is part of a program headed by Dr. Jose Bergantin, Jr. of the Chemistry Department of the College of Science.
Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) has been and is a common concern in many fields of studies, most especially in infectious diseases. This silent pandemic has threatened our generation in so many ways that some scientists claim that we have arrived in the post-antibiotic era. The UST BEATS research group has been actively working since 2014 on bacterial viruses as alternatives to antibiotics to address such a concern, while the KaoLab in Taiwan has in depth knowledge and has been studying many aspects of bacterial pathogenesis and resistance. This collaboration is crucial to help find solutions and address AMR in both countries.
The UST-BEATS research group, headed by Asst. Prof. Donna May D. Papa, Ph.D., of the Department of Biological Sciences and the RCNAS, including her team members– Ms. Tracey Guiterrez and Mr. Richard Raneses, both Science Research Specialists, assisted in bacteriophage methods while training on various laboratory protocols. The training, which was also organized by the KaoLab team, headed by Dr. Cheng-Yen Kao, included processing of samples for viewing on Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM), and Galleria melonella larvae handling and infection. The one-week research visit concluded with a grand research meeting wherein bacteriophage methods were presented and discussed.
Additionally, the KaoLab served as a venue for planning future collaborations between the two research groups – starting off with a potential joint research project focusing on characterization of multi-drug resistant bacteria and assessment of phage-antibiotic combinations against bacterial species.
The work and results garnered during the past year and the potential collaborative project between the two laboratories shows importance in exchange of expertise and merging various fields in order to address a common problem – in this case, antimicrobial resistance.