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PUZZLED BY LABORATORY ISOLATION OF NTM?

Nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) are an increasingly frequent cause of pulmonary disease, particularly in individuals with predisposing conditions such as cystic fibrosis. In the clinical laboratory, isolation of NTM from sputum is challenging due to their slow growth and an abundance of other flora that may be present. Traditionally, this necessitates chemical decontamination of sputum samples using alkali or acid to reduce the amount of competing flora. Through a series of recently published studies, we have demonstrated that the use of a highly selective culture medium (“RGM medium”) eliminates the need for chemical decontamination while increasing the yield of NTM. We have also shown that chemical decontamination frequently kills some species of NTM. Finally, in collaboration with the Special Pathogens Laboratory, we have applied this new methodology to recovery of NTM from water samples, resulting in a highly simplified culture method and an increased yield of NTM.

Speaker: John D. Perry, Ph.D., D.Sc., is a Clinical Scientist at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. His graduate and postgraduate training were at Northumbria University, where he serves as a Visiting Professor.

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