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For Immediate Release
Friday, November 13, 2008
Contact: Barry Bochner , Ph.D.  
  Biolog, Inc.
  (510) 785-2564 ext. 312

Biolog Announces Successes in Analysis and Identification of Mycobacterium, Nocardia, and Other Pathogenic Bacteria


Hayward, CA - November 13, 2008 - Presentations made at scientific conferences this week announced recent successes in utilizing Biolog technology to advance our understanding of important pathogenic bacteria.

At the Texas and South Central ASM meeting in Austin, Texas, Professor Lacy Daniels’ group from Texas A & M University presented their most recent findings using Biolog Phenotype MicroArray (PM) Technology to study species of the genus Mycobacterium. These bacteria are challenging agents of human and animal disease. The World Health Organization has estimated that about one-third of the world’s population is infected with M. tuberculosis (the agent of tuberculosis) and it is responsible for about 12% of all deaths due to infectious disease. Other species are also important pathogens, including the M. avium group (AIDS complications, Johne’s disease, and possibly Crohn’s disease), M. kansasii (a tuberculosis-like disease), M. chelonae and M. fortuitum (tissue infections) and M. leprae (leprosy).

Professor Daniels’ group had two presentations. In the first they used PM Technology to study the metabolic properties of four Mycobacterium species in great detail at two different temperatures. Some pathogenic bacteria use the warm temperature of the human body as a signal. In response to this signal they change their metabolism substantially as part of their invasive strategy. All four of the species studied displayed alterations of certain specific metabolic pathways at 37° C. compared with 30° C., yet each species behaved differently.

In the second presentation, the Daniels group determined the function of an important pathogenic gene in M. tuberculosis called Rv1238. They showed that this gene is involved with the metabolism of a sugar known as trehalose. The discovery was made using a related species, M. smegmatis, which grows faster and is easier to work with. Using Biolog’s PM Technology to compare a normal strain of M. smegmatis to one with a genetically engineered knock out of the homologous gene (5058), it was clear that trehalose metabolism had been altered. In Mycobacterium, trehalose is used as a chemical store of food and energy. Trehalose also plays a special role in the cell wall of Mycobacterium where it is linked to mycolic acids. The discovery of the role of the Rv1238 and 5058 gene gives added insight into pathogenic aspects unique to Mycobacterium and may provide new approaches to antibiotic development. Because they grow slowly and persist successfully, Mycobacterium infections are difficult to cure and new antibiotic-resistant strains are presenting even more severe challenges in the public health arena.

Another agent of respiratory disease in animals is Nocardia. This bacterium causes nocardiosis and mycetoma, especially in immunocompromised patients. Biolog has also reported successes in both the testing and identification of bacteria from this group. Strains of Nocardia have been successfully analyzed using PM Technology and Biolog’s new GEN III bacteria identification system, launched in April, 2008, is the first test kit system that can identify the eight most important pathogenic species of Nocardia.

Adding to this news was a conference held this week at the Veterinary Laboratory Agency (VLA) in Weybridge, UK. The conference, attended by over 80 scientists, covered a broad range of applications of PM Technology including human, veterinary and plant pathogens, mammalian host cell models, community analysis, and yeast characterization. Presentations were given by scientists from the UK and Ireland on their latest results studying Mycobacterium tuberculosis and bovis as well as Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhimurium, Cronobacter sakazakii, Pseudomonas syringae, Saccharomyces cerevisiae and pastorianus and microbiota of the gut and oral cavity.

A previous conference held last March in Florence, Italy, also covered diverse applications of Phenotype MicroArray analysis of microorganisms important in the environment, agriculture, and human health. A review of the proceedings from the Florence Conference was published in the September, 2008 issue of the journal Molecular Microbiology.

About Biolog:
Biolog is a privately held company based in Hayward, CA that continues to pioneer in the development of powerful new cell analysis tools for solving critical problems in biological, pharmaceutical, and biotechnological research and development. It is the world leader in cell phenotyping technology. Biolog's respiration based technology is unique in its broad applicability to cells - this includes bacterial cells and fungal cells as well as animal cells. Biolog products are available worldwide, either directly from the company or through its extensive network of international distributors. Further information can be obtained at Biolog's website, .

About the Texas A&M Health Science Center:
The Texas A&M Health Science Center provides the state with health education, outreach and research. Its six components located in communities throughout Texas are Baylor College of Dentistry, the College of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the Institute of Biosciences and Technology, the Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy, and the School of Rural Public Health.

About the Veterinary Laboratory Agency:
The VLA is an internationally recognized centre of excellence in veterinary research with close links to research institutes and universities globally. The VLA also provides a National and International Reference Laboratory service for a wide range of animal diseases and zoonoses. Research into and diagnostic development for veterinary and zoonotic pathogens using the latest technologies for genotypic and phenotypic analysis are key remits for the VLA.