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Nontuberculous mycobacteria NTM

Nontuberculous mycobacteria NTM

Nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) refer to all the species in the family of mycobacteria that may cause human disease, but do not cause tuberculosis (MTB) or leprosy. In a U.S. study from 2010, it was estimated that approximately 30 people per 100,000 population were infected with these lesser-known species of MTB and leprosy.

Like tuberculosis (TB), nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) infection often affects the lungs. People who have damaged lung tissue from diseases such as emphysema, bronchiectasis, adult cystic fibrosis or previous infection appear to be at greater risk for developing a NTM infection. People who have a suppressed immune system, such as those who receive strong immunosuppressant medications like prednisone or newer immunosuppressants like TNF inhibitors, have a greater risk of developing an NTM infection. Non-tuberculosis mycobacterial infections are now more common than tuberculosis in the United States, due to rising prevalence numbers along with a greater awareness due to improvements in detection, culture, and diagnosis.

Non-tuberculosis Mycobacteria are opportunistic pathogens placing some groups at increased risk, including those with underlying lung disease or depressed immune systems. NTM are environmental organisms that can be found in soil, dust, and water including natural water sources (such as lakes, rivers, and streams) and municipal water sources (such as water that people drink or shower in). NTM can form difficult-to-eliminate biofilms, which are collections of microorganisms that stick to each other, and adhere to surfaces in moist environments, such as the insides of plumbing in buildings.

These pathogens are typically not transmitted person-to-person.

If not diagnosed early enough and left unchecked, NTM lung disease can lead to a decline in lung function, worsening symptoms, and a decrease in overall quality of life for patients. Early diagnosis is critical in the appropriate management of nontuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) lung disease.

Eurofins Viracor recently released their PCR assay for Non-tuberculosis Mycobacterium as new diagnostic tool to assist clinicians and patients.  This allows for the detection & differentiation of MAC, MABC & Mycobacterium spp. by RT-DNA qPCR, direct from clinical samples. ​ Designed to select for the detection or non-detection of NTM in respiratory, BAL, Bronchial/Tracheal Washings, and Sputum samples, clinicians now have the opportunity to apply “state of the art” testing when NTM infections are suspected. 

By utilizing advanced technologies and methodologies, Viracor assists clinicians in patient selection, treatment monitoring, and the early detection of potential complications. This collaborative approach between Eurofins Viracor and healthcare providers contributes to the successful implementation of NTM in patients, ultimately improving the outcomes and quality of life for those impacted by this disease.

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