Development of a technology for diagnosing non-tuberculous mycobacteria infection

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Historically, human infections due to mycobacterium were due almost exclusively to Mycobacterium tuberculosis. More recently, other species of mycobacterium (non-tuberculous mycobacteria or NTB) causing clinical disease have been identified and are increasingly recognized worldwide. These organisms cause pulmonary infections, skin and soft tissue infections and lymphadenitis. In addition, early latent tuberculosis infections (LTBI) diagnosis is important, specially in children as there is hightened risk of progression to severe active tuberculosis (TB) disease.

This new test has been developed to specifically diagnose non-tuberculous mycobacteria and ruling out latent tuberculosis infections.


  • To develop an in-vitro test to specifically identify NTM sensitization, which in turn, will reduce the number of unnecessary LTBI treatments in children, diminishing the management costs as well as the social alarm involved in such cases.

Problem to Solve

NTM are opportunistic infections that can cause a TB-like symptoms in immunocompromised individuals, such as HIV positive, children, and chronic respiratory disease patients. The identification of these organisms in pulmonary specimens does not always equate with active infection. In addition, recurrent infection with new strains of mycobacteria or a relapse of infection is not uncommon, being appropriate in some selected cases a surgical resection. On the other hand, improper identification of NTM as LTBI leads to an unnecessary drug therapy, as well as creating discomfort in patients and social alarm. Nowadays, not supportive definite diagnostic methods are still available.


We have developed an immunological test based on a unique and specific NTM antigen capable of diagnosing NTM infections. The bases of the test resides in the detection of individuals sensitized with NTM and patients with a diseased caused by NTM, by means of the cytokines detection produced by blood T-cells after NTM antigen stimulation.

Level of Innovation

The diagnostic method proposed is designed in the identification of patients who really have a NTM infection. There is not a product with these characteristics in the market. The test will help to prescribe the adequate treatment to those that really need. And thus, reducing unnecessary therapies, with the consequent reduction in antibiotic resistance, and costs of patient treatment.


Supervisor & Project Leader. Senior research scientist

José Domínguez

Fundació Institut d'Investigació en Ciències de la Salut Germans Trias i Pujol

Project leader

Ph.D., scientific partner. Associate Professor

Jordi Torrelles

Ohio State University

Senior Manager in the Innovation and Technology Tranfer office

Nuria Martí Ras

Fundació Institut d'Investigació en Ciències de la Salut Germans Trias i Pujol


CEO at Aelix Therapeutics

José Luis Cabero

Aelix Therapeutics & Symbiokraft


Obra Social
Caixa Capital Risc
CI.V 16

Scientific Area


Business area


Research center

Fundació Institut d’investigació en ciències de la salut Germans Trias i Pujol