BCCM/ITM has been operational since the 1st of February 2011, and harbours one the largest and most diverse collections of well-documented mycobacteria worldwide, including the TDR TB-Strain bank.
BCCM/ITM is hosted by and sharing its research interests with the Mycobacteriology Unit at the Institute of Tropcial Medicine in Antwerp, dedicated in research to combat tuberculosis, Buruli ulcer and other mycobacterial diseases. Research activities benefit from the leading role of the unit as Supranational Reference Laboratory and International Coordinating Center for these diseases, providing services to clinical laboratories at national and international level, national control programs and projects from non-governmental organizations, through isolation and identification of mycobacteria as well as determination of resistance to drugs.
Building on the strong expertise in multiple areas of mycobacteriology, the unit has initiated new approaches towards additional aims, to better understand:
- Mechanisms underlying drug resistance to clofazimine and fluoroquinolones, and optimized detection of rifampicin resistance
- Transmission dynamics of M. tuberculosis and M. ulcerans
- Differential diagnosis of M. ulcerans
- Phylogeography of M. ulcerans and M. africanum
- Phenotypic and genotypic differences between M. africanum and M. tuberculosis
- How to further optimize biosafety around working with resistant M. tuberculosis.
Scope of the biological material
The host laboratory has one of the largest and most diverse collections of well documented mycobacteria worldwide, characterized by phenotypic and/or genotypic tests. It comprises strains from human and animal origin from all continents spanning from 1960 to date. Following the research lines, the unit’s collection has an emphasis on M. tuberculosis complex, M. ulcerans with over 1000 isolates from all endemic countries, and fastidious non-tuberculous mycobacteria like M. genavense, M. haemophilum and M. lepraemurium.
BCCM/ITM continues to incorporate the most interesting strains from the ITM research collection into the BCCM/ITM public collection.
Since June 2013, strains from the TDR TB-Strain Bank have been integrated in BCCM/ITM. This bank was established from 2005 to 2011 with substantial funding of the World Health Organisation, and consists of 229 M. tuberculosis clinical isolates (see Vincent et al., 2012).
Distribution of strains
Strains of the public collection are accessible to the scientific community under the conditions of the BCCM Material Transfer Agreement (MTA), if necessary amended with additional conditions possibly already attached to the biological material. The biological material is available as viable freeze-dried bacilli or as heat-inactivated bacterial suspensions (thermolysates). Purified, genomic DNA or cultured bacilli on solid medium, can be obtained upon request. For more information on ordering microbial resources click here.
Accession, control, preservation, storage and supply of mycobacteria and related information in the frame of public deposits are ISO 9001:2008 certified. The control of viability, identity and mycobacterial purity on the batches for release, are performed according to the ISO 15189 standard (BELAC 147MED).