Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis
Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) is an obligate pathogenic bacterium in the genus Mycobacterium. It is often abbreviated M. paratuberculosis or M. avium ssp. paratuberculosis. It is the causative agent of Johne's disease, which affects ruminants such as cattle, and also perhaps the human disease Crohn's disease. The type strain is ATCC 19698 (equivalent to CIP 103963 or DSM 44133).
Recent studies have shown that MAP present in milk can survive pasteurization, which has raised human health concerns due to the widespread nature of MAP in modern dairy herds. MAP survival during pasteurization is dependent on the D72C-value of the strains present and their concentration in milk. It is heat resistant and is capable of sequestering itself inside white blood cells, which may contribute to its persistence in milk. It has also been reported to survive chlorination in municipal water supplies.
MAP is a slow growing organism and is difficult to culture. Bacterial cultures were regarded as Gold standards for detection of MAP. Detection is very limited in fresh tissues, food, and water. Professor John Hermon-Taylor of Kings College London is developing a new vector type anti MAP vaccine which is both curative and preventative - offering great hope to millions of Crohn's sufferers worldwide. He is also developing a companion MAP blood test which promises to be far more accurate than the current bacterial culture method.
It is not susceptible to antituberculosis drugs (which can generally kill Mycobacterium tuberculosis). MAP is susceptible to antibiotics used to treat Mycobacterium avium disease, such as rifabutin and clarithromycin, however the capacity of these antibiotics to eradicate MAP infection in vivo has not been established.
MAP is recognized as a multi-host mycobacterial pathogen with a proven specific ability to initiate and maintain systemic infection and chronic inflammation of the intestine of a range of histopathological types in many animal species, including primates.
On the assumption that MAP is a causative agent in Crohn's disease, the Australian biotechnology company Giaconda is seeking to commercialize a combination of rifabutin, clarithromycin, and clofazimine as a potential drug therapy, called Myoconda, for Crohn's. As of April 2007, Giaconda received United States FDA IND approval for a new Phase 2/3 trial.
MAP has been found in larger numbers within the intestines of Crohn's disease patients than those with ulcerative colitis and healthy controls.
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