Bacterial infections: antimicrobial therapies

The Bacterial infections: antimicrobial therapies group is a junior group under IBEC’s Tenure Track scheme.

Eduard Torrents Serra | Group Leader
Maria del Mar Cendra Gascón | Postdoctoral Researcher
Marija Vukomanovic | Postdoctoral Researcher
Aida Baelo Álvarez | PhD Student
Núria Blanco Cabra | PhD Student
Laura Moya Andérico | PhD Student
Lucas Pedraz López | PhD Student
Maria Zimina | PhD Student
Kevin Ibeas Martínez | Masters Student
Andrea Bartolomé Nafría | Laboratory Assistant

Former Members
Maria del Mar Cendra | PhD Student


Infectious diseases constitute a tenacious and major public health problem all over the world. The emergence and increasing prevalence of bacterial strains that are resistant to available antibiotics demand the discovery of new therapeutic approaches.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa cells treated with the antibiotic carbenicillin

In addition, there is an urgent need for reliable and rapid detection of infecting bacteria and its pattern of resistance to antibiotics.

Bacterial DNA synthesis open new horizons in the discovery of new antibacterial targets due to remarkably differences to the eukaryotic system. The enzyme ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) catalyzes the reduction of ribonucleotides to the corresponding deoxyribonucleotides (dNTP) and thereby provides the building blocks for DNA synthesis and repair. The balance of the different dNTPs has to be carefully regulated and the RNR enzymes as well as its expression play important roles. In the bacterial world it is not known which transcriptional regulators are required to control the expression of the different RNR genes, their role in virulence and during bacterial biofilm formation. RNRs could be considered a good antimicrobial target candidate to inhibit bacterial growth because they present substantial differences relative to their eukaryote counterparts. The discoveries of new molecules against the activity of this system is crucial to be explored.

Detailed microscopy observations of structured biofilms from Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 wild-type and different ribonucleotide reductase mutants. On the left side, a scheme of the longitudinal structure of P. aeruginosa biofilm is represented, labeled with indications of the oxygen concentration along the biofilm. On the right side, confocal laser scanning microscopy images are shown, which were taken from the aerobic region of the biofilm (top part, superficial biofilm) and from the anaerobic region (bottom part, deeper in the biofilm structure). The corresponding average thickness of each strain is representative of three independent experiments.

Our lab aims to investigate new antimicrobial therapies to combat bacterial infections with different objectives:
First, to establish the molecular basis for the regulation of RNR genes, their importance in virulence and biofilm formation;
Second, the identification and screening of new molecules for the highly selective inhibition of bacterial RNR;
Third, by using nanomedicine techniques the development of novel and specific nanoparticles to deliver existing antibiotics or new identify antimicrobial drugs, especially when the bacteria are growing in biofilm, close to the physiological conditions of the disease and where the current chemotherapy fails;
Fourth, we are studying new methodologies to threat bacterial chronic infections in patients suffering cystic fibrosis;
Finally, we will use lab-on-a-chip technology to deeply elucidate mechanisms to combat bacterial forming biofilm as well as new approaches to identify multiresistant bacteria to different antibiotics.

We believe these projects will be beneficial to society since we explore the use of different bioengineering approaches to elucidate ways to diagnose and eradicate multi-drug resistant bacteria.

Related links


IBEC-mentored student wins prize for research project

One of IBEC’s mentees under the BATX2LAB programme was a prize winner last Wednesday at the initiative’s annual ceremony to award the best research projects.

IBEC researchers win EIT Health awards

IBEC group leaders Eduard Torrents and Elisabeth Engel both received awards at last week’s EIT Health Spain event at the PCB.

Mycobacterium in olive oil for cancer treatment

Researchers at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) and IBEC have revealed a way to effectively deliver a mycobacterium needed for the treatment of bladder cancer in humans –using a formulation based on olive oil.

The enzymes that enable bacteria to make themselves at home

IBEC researchers have come a step closer to understanding how bacteria can cause chronic infections by identifying the key enzymes that allow them to create the right conditions for infection.

Telenoticias Hospitalet: “El present i el futur de la Fibrosi Quística”

The news programme L’Informatiu in L’Hospitalet featured the Cystic Fibrosis event, “El present i el futur de la Fibrosi Quística”, that was organised by IBEC and the ACFQ on 27th April.

Possible new treatment for bladder cancer using a mycobacterium

Collaborators at the UAB and IBEC have found a mycobacterium that is more effective in treating superficial bladder cancer and does not cause infections, unlike those used up to now.

IBEC groups join forces to combat chronic bacterial infections

A study published today in the Journal of Controlled Release describes a new nanoparticle strategy able to target hard-to tackle infections caused by biofilm-forming bacteria.

New hope against growing threat of antibiotic resistance

The increasing prevalence of bacteria that are resistant to current antibiotics pose an escalating threat to human health. Now, researchers in Barcelona have identified a molecule with huge potential as a new type of antibacterial agent.

Key player identified in bacterial infections

A group at IBEC has a identified a important factor in E. coli infection, opening the way to developing targeted drugs against the potentially deadly condition.

“Suport a les unitats de FQ de Sant Joan de Déu, Parc Taulí i Vall d’Hebron, l’IDIBELL i l’IBEC”

Eduard Torrents and his group appear a couple of times in the December 2014 edition of the newspaper of the Associació Catalana de Fibrosi Quística, Per a Vèncer la Fibrosi Quística. One article is about their contribution to a research and clinical trials day, and the other is about the funding they receive from the association for basic research into CF.

Download the issue here.

“Desenvolupament d’una nova família de compostos antimicrobians”

Junior group leader Eduard Torrents gave a talk at the Jornada Formativa Anual 2014 of the Associació Catalana de Fibrosi Quística.

Further Pablo Motos support for IBEC research into bacterial infections

Junior group leader Eduard Torrents is the recipient of a third “Pablo Motos” award from the Federación Española de Fibrosis Quística (FEFQ) to continue his research into identifying new antimicrobial molecules to fight the bacteria that cause complications and even death in many people with cystic fibrosis.

“El combate contra la pseudomona en manos del Dr. Torrents”

Senior researcher Eduard Torrents appears several times in the July edition of the newspaper of the Associació Catalana de Fibrosi Quística, Per a Vèncer la Fibrosi Quística.

Continuing the fight against cystic fibrosis

IBEC Senior Researcher Eduard Torrents participated in a conference to mark the National Day for Cystic Fibrosis last Wednesday 25 April. This event, which took place at the Spanish Society of Pneumology and Thoracic Surgery (SEPAR), also included the official presentation of funds from the Associació Catalana de Fibrosis Quística (Catalan Association of Cystic Fibrosis) to research groups specializing in the disease.

Opening new doors to combat bacterial infections

We may be several steps closer to understanding one of the major pathologies that affects sufferers of cystic fibrosis, thanks to Senior researcher Eduard Torrents of IBEC’s Microbial biotechnology and host-pathogen interaction group

IBEC researcher receives Pablo Motos award

Eduard Torrents, senior researcher in IBEC’s Microbial Biotechnology and Host-pathogen Interaction group, has been announced as a recipient of the 2010 Pablo Motos award from the Federación Española de Fibrosis Quística (Spanish Association of Cystic Fibrosis) this week.


International projects
BACTSHOT Novel antimicrobial therapy (2016-2017) EIT Health Head Start – Proof of Concept Eduard Torrents
National projects
Redes reguladoras de la expresión génica de las distintas ribonucleotidil reductasas en bacterias MINECO, I+D-Investigación fundamental no orientada Eduard Torrents
inhibitRNR Las ribonucleotido reductasas como una nueva diana terapéutica frente a patógenos bacterianos (2016-2018) MINECO, Retos investigación: Proyectos I+D Eduard Torrents
Privately-funded projects
Desarrollo de una nueva familia de compuestos antimicrobianos Asociación Catalana de Fibrosis Quística Eduard Torrents
Identificación y administración de nuevas moléculas antimicrobianas contra Pseudomonas aeruginosa creciendo en biofilm Asociación Española Fibrosis Quística, Becas de Investigación “Pablo Motos” Eduard Torrents
Ribonucleotide reductasas: una nueva diana terapéutica contra organismos patógenos en enfermos de fibrosis quística (2010-2017) Asociación Española Fibrosis Quística, Becas de Investigación “Pablo Motos” Eduard Torrents
RNRbiotic New strategy to combat bacterial infections (2015-2017) Obra Social La Caixa, Caixaimpulse Eduard Torrents
Novel strategies to combat bacterial chronic infections by the development of microfluidics platforms to analyse and treat bacterial growing in biofilms (2016) Obra Social La Caixa Eduard Torrents


Urrea, L., Segura-Feliu, M., Masuda-Suzukake, M., Hervera, A., Pedraz, L., Aznar, J. M. G., Vila, M., Samitier, J., Torrents, E., Ferrer, I., Gavín, R., Hagesawa, M., Del Río, J. A., (2017). Involvement of cellular prion protein in Molecular Neurobiology , 1-14

D'Auria, Giuseppe, Torrents, Eduard, Luquin, Marina, Comas, Iñaki, Julián, Esther, (2016). Draft genome sequence of Mycobacterium brumae ATCC 51384 Genome Announcements 4, 2, e00237-16 [Open Access]

Noguera-Ortega, Estela, Secanella-Fandos, Silvia, Eraña, Hasier, Gasión, Jofre, Rabanal, Rosa M., Luquin, Marina, Torrents, Eduard, Julián, Esther, (2016). Nonpathogenic Mycobacterium brumae inhibits bladder cancer growth in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo European Urology Focus 2, 1, 67-76

Noguera-Ortega, E., Blanco-Cabra, N., Rabanal, R.M., Sanchez-Chardi, A., Roldán, M., Torrents, E., Luquin, M., Julián, E., (2016). Mycobacteria emulsified in olive oil-in-water trigger a robust immune response in bladder cancer treatment Scientific Reports 6, 27232

Basas, J., Morer, A., Ratia, C., Martín, M.T., del Pozo, J.L., Gomis, X., Rojo-Molinero, E., Torrents, E., Almirante, B., Gavaldà, J., (2016). Efficacy of anidulafungin in the treatment of experimental Candida parapsolosis catheter infection Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 71, 10, 2895-2901

Noguera-Ortega, E., Rabanal, R. M., Secanella-Fandos, S., Torrents, E., Luquin, M., Julián, E., (2016). Gamma-irradiated mycobacteria enhance survival in bladder tumor bearing mice although less efficaciously than live mycobacteria Journal of Urology 195, 1, 198-205

Crespo, Anna, Pedraz, Lucas, Astola, Josep, Torrents, Eduard, (2016). Pseudomonas aeruginosa exhibits deficient biofilm formation in the absence of class II and III ribonucleotide reductases due to hindered anaerobic growth Frontiers in Microbiology 7, Article 688 [Open Access]

Baelo, Aida, Julián, Esther, Torrents, Eduard, (2016). Methyl-hydroxylamine specifically inhibits ribonucleotide reductase activity in pathogenic bacteria New Biotechnology Elsevier 33, 3, 417

Pedraz, Lucas, Crespo, Anna, Torrents, Eduard, (2016). A single transcription factor behind all bacterial dNTP synthesis revealed as a novel antimicrobial target New Biotechnology Elsevier 33, 3, 410

Julián, E., Rabanal, R. M., Secanella-Fandos, S., Torrents, E., Luquin, M., Noguera-Ortega, E., (2016). Eficacia de micobacterias Gamma-irradiadas en el tratamiento de cancer vesical no-músculo invasivo Enfermedades Infecciosas y Microbiología Clínica Elsevier 34, SE1, 229

Torrents, E., Baelo, Aida, Levato, R., Julián, E., Crespo, Anna, Astola, Josep, Gavaldà, J., Engel, E., Mateos-Timoneda, M.A., (2016). Mejora en la administración antibiotic para el tratamiento de infecciones en forma de biofilm con el uso de nanopartículas que disgregan la matriz extracellular Enfermedades Infecciosas y Microbiología Clínica Elsevier 34, SE1, 31

Baelo, Aida, Levato, Riccardo, Julián, Esther, Crespo, Anna, Astola, José, Gavaldà, Joan, Engel, Elisabeth, Mateos-Timoneda, Miguel Angel, Torrents, Eduard, (2015). Disassembling bacterial extracellular matrix with DNase-coated nanoparticles to enhance antibiotic delivery in biofilm infections Journal of Controlled Release 209, 150-158 [Open Access]

Dreux, Nicolas, Cendra, Maria del Mar, Massier, Sébastien, Darfeuille-Michaud, Arlette, Barnich, Nicolas, Torrents, Eduard, (2015). Ribonucleotide reductase NrdR as a novel regulator for motility and chemotaxis during adherent-invasive Escherichia coli infection Infection and Immunity 83, 4, 1305-1317

Barreiros dos Santos, M., Azevedo, S., Agusil, J. P., Prieto-Simón, B., Sporer, C., Torrents, E., Juárez, A., Teixeira, V., Samitier, J., (2015). Label-free ITO-based immunosensor for the detection of very low concentrations of pathogenic bacteria Bioelectrochemistry 101, 146-152

Crespo, A., Pedraz, L., Torrents, E., (2015). Function of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa NrdR transcription factor: Global transcriptomic analysis and its role on ribonucleotide reductase gene expression PLoS ONE 10, 4, e0123571

Julián, E., Baelo, A., Gavaldà, J., Torrents, E., (2015). Methyl-hydroxylamine as an efficacious antibacterial agent that targets the ribonucleotide reductase enzyme PLoS ONE 10, 3, e0122049

Barniol-Xicota, M., Escandell, A., Valverde, E., Julián, E., Torrents, E., Vázquez, S., (2015). Antibacterial activity of novel benzopolycyclic amines Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry 23, 2, 290-296

Jaramillo, Maria del Carmen, Huttener, Mario, Alvarez, Juan Manuel, Homs-Corbera, Antoni, Samitier, Josep, Torrents, Eduard, Juárez, Antonio, (2015). Dielectrophoresis chips improve PCR detection of the food-spoiling yeast Zygosaccharomyces rouxii in apple juice Electrophoresis 36, 13, 1471-1478

Basas, J., Rojo, E., Gomis, X., Sierra, J.M., Torrents, E., Almirante, B., Gavaldà, J., (2015). Actividad de anidulafungia vs. anfotericina b liposomal frente a C. Parapsilopsis creciendo en biopelículas en distintos materiales Enfermedades Infecciosas y Microbiología Clínica Elsevier 33, 37

Torrents, E., (2015). Tratamientos antimicrobianos dirigidos. ¿Es posible la nanomedicina en las enfermedades infecciosas? Enfermedades Infecciosas y Microbiología Clínica Elsevier 33, 6

Torrents, E., Albericio, F., Miret, L., (2014). Primary hydroxylamines and uses thereof Fundació Institut de Bioenginyeria de Catalunya; Fundació Institut de Recerca Biomédica , EP14382032.2,

Cendra, M. M., Torrents, E., (2014). Enzims essencials per a la vida Treballs de la Societat Catalana de Biologia 65, 64-67

Oliva, A. M., Homs-Corbera, A., Torrents, E., Juarez, A., Samitier, J., (2014). Synergystic effect of temperature and electric field intensity in Escherichia coli inactivation Micro and Nanosystems 6, 2, 79-86

Torrents, Eduard, (2014). Ribonucleotide reductases: Essential Enzymes for bacterial life Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology 4, 1-9

Oliva, A. M., Homs, A., Torrents, E., Juarez, A., Samitier, J., (2014). Effect of electric field and temperature in E.Coli viability IFMBE Proceedings Springer 41, 1833-1836

Jaramillo, M. C., Martínez-Duarte, R., Hüttener, M., Renaud, P., Torrents, E., Juárez, A., (2013). Increasing PCR sensitivity by removal of polymerase inhibitors in environmental samples by using dielectrophoresis Biosensors and Bioelectronics 43, 1, 297-303

Otero, J., Baños, R., González, L., Torrents, E., Juárez, A., Puig-Vidal, M., (2013). Quartz tuning fork studies on the surface properties of Pseudomonas aeruginosa during early stages of biofilm formation Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces 102, 117-123

Cendra, M. M., Juárez, A., Madrid, C., Torrents, E., (2013). H-NS is a novel transcriptional modulator of the ribonucleotide reductase genes in escherichia coli Journal of Bacteriology 195, 18, 4255-4263

(See full publication list in ORCID)


  • Zeiss LSM 800 Confocal Laser Scanning Microscope
  • Nikon Inverted Fluorescent microscope ECLIPSE Ti-S/L100
  • Cell culture facilities for microbial infections
  • Biological safety cabinet (class II)
  • Characterization of nanoparticles/biomaterial antibacterial activity
  • Continuous flow system model for bacterial biofilm development
  • Single Channel Fiber-Optic Oxygen Meter with microsensor
  • Gradient thermocycler (PCR)
  • Molecular biology facilities
  • Protein and DNA electrophoresis
  • Bacterial expression systems for heterologous protein production
  • Protein purification systems (FPLC; Biologic DuoFlow System From Bio-Rad)
  • Technology of microbial culture facilities
  • Pressure microinjection system
  • Drosophila melanogaster as a model host for bacterial infections


  • Prof. Fernando Albericio
    Institut de Recerca Biomèdica (IRB), Barcelona, Spain
  • Dr. Elisabeth Engel
  • Dr. Esther Julián
    Dept. de Genètica i de Microbiologia, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain
  • Dr. Nicolas Barnich
    Pathogénie Bactérienne Intestinale, Université Clermont 1, Clermont-Ferrand, France
  • Dr. Joan Gavaldà
    Infectious diseases, Vall d’Hebrón Hospital and Research Institute, Barcelona, Spain
  • Prof. Víctor Puntes
    Inorganic nanoparticles group, Institut Català de Nanociència i Nanotecnología, Barcelona, Spain
  • Prof. Josep Samitier
  • Prof. Santiago Vazquez
    Laboratori de química farmacèutica, Pharmacy Faculty, Barcelona University

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