Drug Research

Major interests

The mission of this research line is to discover biologically active molecules, safely and efficiently target bioactive compounds, and develop analytical methods for determination of pharmaceuticals in biological and environmental matrices. 
The specific objectives are:
i) to screen for bioactive compounds
Research activities include: screening for old and new synthetic compounds with therapeutic potential; elucidation of the mechanisms of activity and preclinical assays of leading compounds.
ii) to develop safe and efficient delivery systems
Research activities include: new drug delivery nanosystems for antitumoral drugs; f characterization and exploration of food-grade bacteria able to produce bioactive conjugated fatty acids (CLA, CLNA).
iii) to develop efficient chromatographic analytical methods
Research activities include: development of efficient chromatographic analytical methods for preparation and analysis of enantiomers of pharmaceuticals and illicit chiral substances; assessment of their ecotoxicological effects on aquatic species.
iii) to identify variables that influence adherence to topical treatment
Research activities include: Guidelines for adequate use of topical treatment amongst Portuguese patients with chronic dermatoses; development of therapeutic monitoring tools.
iv) disseminate good practices to promote adherence to treatment with topical medicines
Activities include: disseminating good practices at community pharmacies to promote adherence to and effectiveness of treatment with topical medicines; information and education of pharmacists and patients. 

Current Projects


Publications Highlights

Maria Cavadas Morais Couto, C., Ribeiro, C., Ribeiro, A. R., Maia, A., Santos, M., Tiritan, M. E., Pinto, E. and Almeida, A. A. (2019). Spatiotemporal Distribution and Sources of Trace Elements in Ave River (Portugal) Lower Basin: Estuarine Water, Sediments and Indigenous Flora. Int J Environ Res 13, 303–318 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41742-019-00174-z

Rocha S, Alves  Fernandes P, Antunes C, Azevedo C, Casal G (2019) New actinosporean description prompts union of the raabeia and echinactinomyxon collective groups (Cnidaria, Myxozoa). Dis Aquat Org 135:175-191. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03389

Rocha S, Alves Â, Antunes C, Azevedo C, Casal G. (2019). Molecular data infers the involvement of a marine aurantiactinomyxon in the life cycle of the myxosporean parasite Paramyxidium giardi (Cnidaria, Myxozoa). Parasitology. 2019 Oct;146(12):1555-1563. doi: 10.1017/S0031182019000866.

Rocha S, Azevedo C, Oliveira E, Alves Â, Antunes C, Rodrigues P, Casal G. (2019). Phylogeny and comprehensive revision of mugiliform-infecting myxobolids (Myxozoa, Myxobolidae), with the morphological and molecular redescription of the cryptic species Myxobolus exiguus. Parasitology. 2019 Apr;146(4):479-496. doi: 10.1017/S0031182018001671.

Sousa JCG, Ribeiro AR, Barbosa MO, Ribeiro C, Tiritan ME, Pereira MFR, Silva AMT. (2019). Monitoring of the 17 EU Watch List contaminants of emerging concern in the Ave and the Sousa Rivers. Sci Total Environ. 2019 Feb 1;649:1083-1095. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.08.309.

Teixeira, M., Pedro, M., Nascimento, M. S. J., Pinto, M. M. M., & Barbosa, C. M. (2019). Development and characterization of PLGA nanoparticles containing 1,3-dihydroxy-2-methylxanthone with improved antitumor activity on a human breast cancer cell line. Pharmaceutical Development and Technology, 24(9), 1104–1114. https://doi.org/10.1080/10837450.2019.1638398

Teixeira, A., Vasconcelos, V, Teixeira, M., Almeida, V., Azevedo, R., Torres, T., Sousa Lobo, J.M. Costa, P.C., Almeida, I.F. (2019) Mechanical properties of topical anti-psoriatic medicines: Implications for patient satisfaction with treatment. AAPS PharmSciTech. 20:36

Rocha S, Filipe Rangel L, Castro R, Severino R, Azevedo C, João Santos M, Casal G (2019). The potential role of the sphaeractinomyxon collective group (Cnidaria, Myxozoa) in the life cycle of mugiliform-infecting myxobolids, with the morphological and molecular description of three new types from the oligochaete Tubificoides insularis. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology Volume 160, January 2019, Pages 33-42

Rocha S, Rocha F, Casal G, Mendonça I, Oliveira E, Al-Quraishy S, Azevedo C (2019). Supplemental diagnosis and phylogeny of Myxobolus absonus (Cnidaria, Myxozoa) from the eye of the freshwater fish Pimelodus maculatus (Siluriformes, Pimelodidae). Acta Tropica Volume 191, March 2019, Pages 87-97

Ribeiro J, Veloso C, Fernandes C, Tiritan ME, Pinto MMM. (2019). Carboxyxanthones: Bioactive Agents and Molecular Scaffold for Synthesis of Analogues and Derivatives. Molecules. 2019 Jan 5;24(1). pii: E180. doi: 10.3390/molecules24010180.

Araújo J, Fernandes C, Pinto M, Tiritan ME. (2019). Chiral Derivatives of Xanthones with Antimicrobial Activity. Molecules. 2019; 24(2):314.

Fernandes, C.; Carraro, M.L.; Ribeiro, J.; Araújo, J.; Tiritan, M.E.; Pinto, M.M.M. (2019). Synthetic Chiral Derivatives of Xanthones: Biological Activities and Enantioselectivity Studies. Molecules 2019, 24, 791.

Teixeira, J.; Tiritan, M.E.; Pinto, M.M.M.; Fernandes, C. (2019). Chiral Stationary Phases for Liquid Chromatography: Recent Developments. Molecules 2019, 24, 865.

Coelho, M.M; Ribeiro, A.R.L.; Sousa, J.C.G.; Ribeiro, C.; Fernandes, C.; Silva, A.M.T.; Tiritan, M.E. (2019). Dual enantioselective LC-MS/MS method to analyse chiral drugs in surface water: monitoring in Douro River estuary. Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis (In Press). 10.1016/j.jpba.2019.03.032

Silva, Themis Jesus, Soares, Emerson Carlos, Casal, Graça, Rocha, Sónia, Santos, Elton Lima, Nascimento, Renato, Oliveira, Elsa, & Azevedo, Carlos. (2019). Ultrastructure of phagocytes and oocysts of Nematopsis sp. (Apicomplexa, Porosporidae) infecting Crassostrea rhizophorae in Northeastern Brazil. Revista Brasileira de Parasitologia Veterinária, 28(1), 97-104.

Almeida D, Machado D, Andrade JC, Mendo S, Gomes AM, Freitas AC. (2019). Evolving trends in next-generation probiotics: a 5W1H perspective. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2019.1599812

do Carmo JP, Phyo YZ, Palmeira A, Tiritan ME, Afonso C, Kijjoa A, M Pinto MM, Fernandes C.(2019). Enantioseparation, recognition mechanisms and binding of xanthones on human serum albumin by liquid chromatography. Bioanalysis, https://doi.org/10.4155/bio-2019-0074

Gonçalves, R., Ribeiro, C., Cravo, S., Cunha, S., Pereira, J.A., Fernandes, J.O., Afonso, C., Titritan, M.E. (2019). Multi-residue method for enantioseparation of psychoactive substances and beta blockers by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. (2019) Vol. 1125, pp:121731.

Rocha, S., Azevedo, C., Alves, Â., Antunes, C., Casal, G. (2019). Morphological and molecular characterization of myxobolids (Cnidaria, Myxozoa) infecting cypriniforms (Actinopterygii, Teleostei) endemic to the Iberian Peninsula. Parasite (2019). Vol. 26. pp: 48.

Casal, G., Soares, E.C., Rocha, S., Silva, T.J., Santos, E.L., Nascimento, R., Oliveira, E., Azevedo, C. (2019). Description of a new myxozoan Kudoa eugerres n. sp. and reclassification of two Sphaerospora sensu lato species. Parasitol Res. (2019). Vol. 118(6):1719-1730.

Cartaxo, AL, Costa‐Pinto, AR, Martins, A, Faria, S, Gonçalves, Virgínia M. F., Tiritan, ME, Ferreira, H, Neves, NM. (2019). Influence of PDLA nanoparticles size on drug release and interaction with cells. J Biomed Mater Res Part A 2019: 107A: 482– 493.

Machado, M.; Martins, N.; Salgueiro, L.; Cavaleiro, C.; Sousa, M.C. (2019). Lavandula Luisieri and Lavandula Viridis Essential Oils as Upcoming Anti-Protozoal Agents: A Key Focus on Leishmaniasis. Appl. Sci. 2019, 9, 3056.

Castro R., Cavaleiro F.I., Rangel L.F, Rocha S., Severino R., Casal G., & Santos M.J. (2018). Myxozoan parasites of the European sea bass, Dicentrarchus labrax (Teleostei: Moronidae): Correlates of infections at the micro- and macroenvironment scales. Aquaculture 485: 17-24

Silva MF, Ribeiro C, Gonçalves VMF, Tiritan ME, Lima Á. Liquid chromatographic methods for the therapeutic drug monitoring of methotrexate as clinical decision support for personalized medicine: A brief review. Biomed Chromatogr. 2018; 32(5):e4159.

Tiritan, M.E., Fernandes, C., Maia, A.S., Pinto, M., Cass, Q.B. (2018). Enantiomeric ratios: Why so many notations? Journal of Chromatography A. 2018. J Chromatogr A. 2018 Sep 28;1569:1-7.

Sousa, J.C.G, Ribeiro, A.R., Barbosa, M.O., Ribeiro, C., Tiritan, M.E., Pereira, M.F.R., Silva, A.M.T. (2018). Monitoring of the 17 EU Watch List contaminants of emerging concern in the Ave and the Sousa Rivers. Science of The Total Environment. In Press

Azevedo, C., Feltran, R., Rocha, S., Matos, E., Maciel, E., Oliveira, E., Al-Quraishy, S. and Casal, G. (2018). Simultaneous occurrence of two new myxosporean species infecting the central nervous system of Hypopygus lepturus (Teleostei, Hypopomidae) from Roraima State, Brazil. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms.

Azevedo, C., Rocha, S. and Casal, G. (2018) Ultrastructural aspects of the developmental phases of Perkinsus atlanticus / P. olseni (Perkinsidae) trophozoites infecting the gills of clams, including encapsulation by host haemocytes. EC Microbiology 14.11 (2018)

Fernandes, C., Phyo, Y., Silva, A.S. , Tiritan, M.E., Kijjoa, A., Pinto, M.M.M. (2018). Chiral stationary phases based on small molecules: an update of the last seventeen years. Separation & Purification Reviews, 47: 89–123.

Couto, C. M. C. M., Ribeiro, C., Maia, A., Santos, M., Tiritan, M. E., Ribeiro, A. R., Pinto E., & Almeida, A. (2018). Assessment of Douro and Ave River (Portugal) lower basin water quality focusing on physicochemical and trace element spatiotemporal changes. Journal of Environmental Science and Health, Part A, 53(12):1056-1066

Henriques, A., Ribeiro, D., Sarmento, B., Silva, P.M.A., Bousbaa, H. (2018). Mitosis inhibitors in anticancer therapy: when blocking the exit becomes a solution. Cancer Letters, vol. 440–441 (64-81)

Ribeiro, C., Couto, C., Ribeiro, A.R., Maia, A.S., Santos, M., Tiritan, M.E., Pinto, E., & Almeida, A. (2018) Distribution and environmental assessment of trace elements contamination of water, sediments and flora from Douro River estuary, Portugal. Science of the Total Environment, 639, 1381-1393.

Rocha, S., Azevedo, C., Oliveira, E., Alves, A., Antunes, C., Rodrigues, P. and Casal, G. (2018). Phylogeny and comprehensive revision of mugiliform-infecting myxobolids (Myxozoa, Myxobolidae), with the morphological and molecular redescription of the cryptic species Myxobolus exiguus. Parasitology (2018) 10:1-18.

Vasconcelos V, Teixeira A, Almeida V, Teixeira M, Ramos S, Torres T, Sousa Lobo JM, Almeida IF. (2018). Patient preferences for attributes of topical anti-psoriatic medicines. J Dermatolog Treat. 2018 Nov 23:1-19.

Cartaxo AL, Costa-Pinto AR, Martins A, Faria S, Gonçalves V.M.F., Tiritan ME, Ferreira H, Neves NM. (2018). Influence of PDLA nanoparticles size on drug release and interaction with cells. J Biomed Mater Res Part A. 2018:9999:1–12.

Teixeira A., Oliveira C., Teixeira M., Gaio AR., Sousa Lobo JM., Almeida IF., & Almeida V. (2017). Development and validation of a novel questionnaire for adherence with topical treatments in psoriasis, QATOP. Am J Clin Dermatol. Aug;18(4):571-581.

Henriques A.C., & De Marco P.(2015). Methanesulfonate (MSA) catabolic genes from marine and estuarine bacteria. PLoS One 10(5), e0125735.

Fernandes, C., Masawang, K., Tiritan, M.E., Sousa, E., De Lima, V., Afonso, C., Bousbaa, H., Sudprasert, W., Pedro, M., Pinto, M.M. (2014). New chiral derivatives of xanthones: Synthesis and investigation of enantioselectivity as inhibitors of growth of human tumor cell lines. Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry, 22 (3), pp. 1049-1062.

Ribeiro A.R., Santos L.H.M.L.M., Maia A.S., Delerue-Matos C., Castro P.M.L., & Tiritan M.E. (2014). Enantiomeric fraction evaluation of pharmaceuticals in environmental matrices by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Journal of Chromatography A, 1363, pp. 226-235.


Drug Research Team

PhD Members

PhD Students

MSc Students

Research Fellowship


Research Technician