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
Aida Baelo Álvarez | PhD Student
Núria Blanco Cabra | PhD Student
Anna Crespo Puig | PhD Student
Lucas Pedraz López | PhD Student
Maria Zimina | PhD Student
Kevin Ibeas Martínez | Masters Student

Former Members
Maria del Mar Cendra | PhD Student


Surface plot analysis of Pseudomonas aeruginosa wild-type PAO1 days. Biofilms were grown in a continuous flow cell system and visualized under confocal microscopy.

Surface plot analysis of Pseudomonas aeruginosa wild-type PAO1 days. Biofilms were grown in a continuous flow cell system and visualized under confocal microscopy.

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.

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

Structural superposition of NrdA (class I) and NrdD (class III) subunits of ribonucleotide reductase.

Structural superposition of NrdA (class I) and NrdD (class III) subunits of ribonucleotide reductase.

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.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa treated with novobicin.

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;
  • 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.

Disassembling the existing P. aeruginosa biofilm by adding methylhydroxylamine (M-HA).

Disassembling the existing P. aeruginosa biofilm by adding methylhydroxylamine (M-HA).

Related links


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.


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 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 Asociación Española Fibrosis Quística, Becas de Investigación “Pablo Motos” Eduard Torrents
RNRbiotic: New strategy to combat bacterial infections 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 Obra Social La Caixa Eduard Torrents


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)


  • 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
  • Prof. Britt-Marie Sjöberg
    Dept. Molecular Biology and Functional Genomics, Stockholm University, Sweden
  • 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

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