Microorganisms isolated from soil samples could help identify potential new antibiotics

The 57 Valencian high school students who participated in the SWICEU team’s “En busca de nuevos Fleming” (Searching for New Fleming) project presented their findings at an event held at the CEU Cardenal Herrera university's assembly room.

Microorganisms isolated from soil samples could help identify potential new antibiotics
Image Credit: RUVID.

These students, who were supervised by 22 university students from the CEU UCH's Faculties of Health Sciences and Veterinary Sciences, isolated 570 microorganisms from soil samples they collected, identifying 64 strains with possible antibiosis abilities against reference bacteria.

This year, three centers participated in the project: the American School of Valencia, the Santa Mara School of El Puig, and the San Pedro Pascual School. The CEU UCH was the first Spanish university to take the tests directly to the schools, developing a unique anti-Covid-19 safety plan for the practical sessions.

The coronavirus has already caused 3.3 million deaths in a year. But in just three decades, infections due to antibiotic-resistant bacteria will cause 10 million deaths a year, according to the predictions of the WHO. In this project we involve the youth, university and pre-university students, to act against this other great threat for global health that we must not forget.”

Teresa Pérez Gracia, Professor, Microbiology, CEU UCH

Gracia is also the leader of the SWICEU group. At the project’s final session, the 57 high school students presented their discoveries in the quest for potential new antibiotics, and they expressed the experience of participating in a real scientific study, assisted by university students, and presenting their own contribution to this public health issue.

They all got a diploma for their participation in the project, as well as the “2050 Infección!” pack of cards, a game developed by the SWICEU team to build awareness of the global health problem of bacterial resistance in a fun way.

They also went on a tour of the university’s buildings and labs, joined by the 22 university students who supervised their experiments from the CEU UCH’s degrees in Dentistry, Pharmacy, Medicine, Nutrition, Veterinary Sciences, and Medicine.

In schools, with an anti-COVID protocol

This year, the SWICEU team was the only Spanish university team that visited schools in person to look for new antibiotics, developing a particular anti-Covid-19 protocol for this purpose.

Since 2017, 380 Valencian students from seven schools and high schools have isolated 306 colonies of microorganisms with possible antibiotic abilities in four editions of international projects SWI and Tiny Earth in which the CEU UCH has participated.

For the past four academic years, over 80 university students with degrees in Health Sciences and Veterinary Sciences have led the experiments at the seven participating schools.

Our goal is to promote scientific vocation among the youth in the field of bacterial resistance, but also to raise awareness on the proper use of known antibiotics with informative and leisure actions.”

Teresa Pérez Gracia, Professor, Microbiology, CEU UCH

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