Scientists trace bone infection to new bacteria species

October 18th, 2008 - 11:21 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Oct 18 (IANS) Scientists have traced a bone infection to a newly described species of bacteria related to the tuberculosis pathogen. The discovery may help improve diagnosis and treatment of similar infections, according to a study.Some rare genetic diseases can make patients susceptible to infections with Mycobacterium species, the bacteria that cause tuberculosis and leprosy.

These patients often suffer from recurring mycobacterial infections throughout their lives. Because of this, researchers are trying to identify unusual species that cause disease in order to improve treatment strategies.

“We isolated an unknown species of bacteria from a seven-year-old-child who has a genetic immune defect,” said Didi Bang from Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen, Denmark. “The infection had caused bone lesions and this is where we found the newly described bacteria.”

Mycobacterial infections can be very difficult to treat. The bacteria have unique cell walls that protect them from several antibiotics. Besides, they can also survive attack with acids, alkalis and detergents.

Most mycobacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics like clarithromycin and rifamycins, but some species are becoming resistant to these antibiotics, so new drugs for treatments must be developed.

“Initial tests suggested we had found a mycobacterium. By sequencing some of the bacterium’s genes we showed that we had discovered an undescribed species,” said Bang, according to a release of Society for General Microbiology.

“We called the bacterium Mycobacterium arosiense. The name comes from Arosia, the Latin name of the city of Aarhus in Denmark, which is where the bacterium was first found.

The study was published in the October issue of the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology.

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