Mycobacteria is a large bacterial group, precisely a genus of actinobacteria, cause infections in humans. The most commonly observed infections include tuberculosis (TB), leprosy, and mycobacterium avium complex. These bacteria have waxy cell walls and form colonies on the surfaces of their hosts. Since no adverse signs are visible when Mycobateria infect, these infections are often called asymptomatic. Of Due to absence of any symptoms, mycobacterial infections become difficult to treat and manage.
Waxy cell walls of these bacteria are hard and naturally resist a wide range of antibiotics, including penicillin. Cell wall biosynthesis disruption is a crucial function of a major group of antibiotics but even most of these fail to deal with mycobacterial cell walls and thus, making the treatment difficult. However, these hard waxy cell walls protect Mycobacteria from adverse reactions of alkalis and acids, detergents, and oxidative bursts, which is why they also survive extended exposure to intense antibiotics as well.
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Although there are a few species that antibiotics can affect – including rifamycin and clarithromycin, some strains are highly resistant to antibiotics. Researchers are constantly taking efforts on gaining a solid treatment solution for various Mycobaterial infections. The market for Mycobacterial infections treatment is steadily growing due to increased incidences of infectious diseases and limited treatment options.
The most prominently observed mycobaterial infectious disease is tuberculosis. The disease involved mycobacterial infection in lungs and is transmitted through infected sputum and mucus. Airborne droplets are the most common means of mycobacterial infection. Even after acquiring infection, a person may not experience any notable symptom. This stage is referred to as the latent TB infection. No treatment is required at this stage of TB; however, a maximum of 10% at the latent TB stage have chances to further develop the infection. If an infected individual has the immune system healthy enough to overcome the infecting bacteria, the infection is possibly suppressed. Individuals who have latent TB infections have healthy immune systems that are able to suppress the infection.
Leprosy is another disease caused due to mycobacterial infection. Nerve damage and disfiguring skin sores are the key traits of leprosy, which ultimately lead to ceased sensation. The mycobacterial species that causes leprosy is generally found in soil and on the bodies of some primitive animals such as armadillos. There are two types of leprosy, including lepromatous and tuberculoid. The former is severe and considered contagious, whereas the latter is lesser severe and non-contagious.
The third predominant disease caused due to mycobacterial infection is avium complex. Either Mycobacterium avium or Mycobacterium intracellulare is the responsible species; both are the non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM). These two species are found almost everywhere in the surroundings and thus, have higher chances of infecting humans with weaker immune systems. HIV-infected patients are the most likely to get infected by these species of Mycobacteria.
Careful clinical investigation is the key to better treatment for mycobacterial infections. Research has proven that DNA fingerprinting technology is an efficient diagnostic tool for diagnosing these infections so as to decide the right treatment. Accurate diagnosis and precise identification of the disease-causing mycobacterial species result in deciding the right treatment. Combined therapy is a widely used approach while treating mycobacterial infections. It includes prolonged treatment with combined antimicrobial agents, surgical drainage, and debridement. BCG vaccines provide protection to a great extent for longer duration.
Antibiotics can effectively treat mycobacterial infections but if symptoms are overlooked and treatment is not sought in time, Mycobacterium can spread infection to important body parts and can even get life-threatening in worst cases. Severe nerve damage and scarring may occur, if infections are left untreated for a considerable time. Thus, the demand for solid treatment remains high.