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Novel diagnostic PCR assay for Burkholderia cenocepacia epidemic strain ST32 and its utility in monitoring infection in cystic fibrosis patients

  • Researchers

    Dedeckova K, Kalferstova L, Strnad H, Vavrova J, Drevinek P.

  • Place of research

    Charles University and University Hospital Motol, Prague, Czech Republic

  • Publication

    Journal of Cystic Fibrosis, January 2013

  • Subjects


  • Does a specific and easy-to-use test enable us to detect a particular strain of Burkholderia cepacia complex.

  • Why is this important?

    Burkholderia cenocepacia (strain - ST32) is a bad bug: it is virulent (causes disease) and transmissible. It caused a large epidemic in the past. To prevent its further spread, we need a reliable and fast detection system of the strain in place. Early detection leads to early intervention such as separation of an infected patient from non-infected ones.

  • What did you do?

    We used a technique that allows us to obtain pieces (sequences) of bacterial DNA specific to the ST32 strain. Then, we chose the DNA sequence most suitable for development of strain-specific test. The test is based on detection of the DNA part which is not present in any other Burkholderia cepacia strains. Common microbiological techniques that rely on growing the bacteria in a petri dish can never achieve identification on this level (to say whether Burkholderia is or is not an epidemic strain).

  • What did you find?

    Our new test proved to be able to identify all clinical samples that were found to be ST32 (as confirmed by another technique). Interestingly, it also detected closely related strain ST33, found in Canada, which is actually a clone of ST32.

  • What does this mean and reasons for caution?

    The ST32-specific test can be used reliably for rapid screening of patients who are infected with epidemic strain ST32. It is a very easy and also inexpensive method when compared to other approaches, used so far for searching for ST32.

  • What's next?

    To recommend the test for everyday use in CF centres where ST32 is present. The next step would be to develop similar tests for other epidemic strains to facilitate their identification process.