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Trends Microbiol. 2010 Mar;18(3):117-23. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2009.12.007. Epub 2010 Jan 8.

Mycobacterium abscessus: a new player in the mycobacterial field.

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Université Paris Descartes, Faculté de Médecine, F-75730 Paris Cedex 15, France.


Mycobacterium abscessus, a relative of Koch's bacillus (the bacterium that causes tuberculosis), has recently emerged as the cause of an increasing number of both community- and hospital-acquired infections in humans; it also constitutes a serious threat for cystic fibrosis patients. This situation is worsened by its exceptionally high natural and acquired antibiotic resistance that complicates treatment. Although a rapid grower, it shares some traits with Koch's bacillus, including the ability to induce a persistent lung disease associated with caseous lesions, a landmark of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. Its genome sequence and microarrays are now available, and efficient genetic tools have recently been developed. Here we consider the various advantages of using this species as an experimental model to study tuberculosis and other related mycobacterial diseases.

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