The genus Mycobacterium includes the important pathogens of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTC) and the nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM). NTM are increasingly the cause of opportunistic infections among immuno-compromised patients. This trend and the rise of antibiotic resistance in this genus demand improved differentiation among mycobacterium species.
The difference in antimicrobial susceptibility among different mycobacteria species makes identification down to the species level crucial for microbiology laboratories. Traditional methods for mycobacteria identification, primarily culture-based phenotypic methods, may take weeks and are often inaccurate. Development of commercially available molecular methods, such as nucleic acid hybridization probes, improved turnaround times significantly, but can lack specificity. Sequencing of target genes like 16S rDNA is very fast and highly accurate, but expensive and not widely available.
The recent emergence of advanced mass spectrometry (MS) technology, specifically Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization Time-Of-Flight (MALDI-TOF) MS, enables clinical microbiology laboratories to master the challenge of mycobacteria identification. The unparalleled speed of instruments, such as Bruker’s IVD-CE MALDI Biotyper® (MBT) system, in addition to enhanced ease-of-use, high specificity and significantly reduced cost per test, sees MALDI-TOF MS emerging as a go-to technique for mycobacteria identification.
The optional MBT Mycobacteria IVD Module for the MALDI Biotyper® is composed of a specific reference spectrum library and a software module.
The MBT compares the mass spectrum of an unknown organism with the dedicated library of reference mass spectra, which covers 182 of the currently known 201 mycobacteria. This MBT Mycobacteria IVD Library can conveniently be applied for samples independently from growth on liquid or solid medium.
The MBT Mycobacteria IVD software Module allows processing of more challenging mass spectra than those obtained from most other bacteria. Samples flagged as mycobacteria will undergo an optimized acquisition method and spectra are automatically compared to the MBT Mycobacteria IVD Library, for sensitive and specific identification.
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