A UT Health Northeast researcher has shown that if the antibiotic amikacin kills a patient's Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) in a lab culture, it also is likely to be effective against MAC infections in that patient's lungs and other organs.

Although amikacin has previously been used in combination with other antibiotics to treat MAC, guidelines to determine how much amikacin was needed to kill the bacteria in the lab did not exist, said Barbara Brown-Elliott, research assistant professor in microbiology at UT Health Northeast.

MAC, while not contagious, is a serious disease. Its symptoms include cough, production of sputum (secretions from the lungs and tubes that carry air to the lungs), fatigue, weight loss, blood in the sputum, night sweats, and fever.

It occurs when MAC bacteria in the air, water or soil invade the lungs or body of a susceptible person. Patients with MAC are treated with a combination of antibiotics, all of which have significant side effects.

"Currently, only three or four antibiotics are used in combination to treat most cases of MAC. Before our team did this study, there were lab testing guidelines for only one of these drugs," said Ms. Brown-Elliott, supervisor of the internationally known Mycobacteria/Nocardia Laboratory at UT Health.

With this new finding, MAC patients' responses can now be determined for two antibiotics rather than just one. Because of this research, fewer patients will end up taking drugs that likely won't help them and come with the risk of side effects.

If the guidelines recommended by Ms. Brown-Elliott's team are adopted by the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute, they will become the new international benchmark for determining MAC patients' treatment.

Ms. Brown-Elliott began working in the mycobacteria/Nocardia lab in 1988. Earlier this year, she received the Scherago-Rubin Award from the American Society for Microbiology, one of the world's most prestigious microbiology awards.

She is the lead author of the research article, which was recently published online by the Journal of Clinical Microbiology. Other UT Health co-authors are pulmonologist Dr. David E. Griffith, research associate Elena Iakhiaeva; and infectious disease specialist Dr. Richard Wallace, Jr.


ETMC offers seminar on women's health


East Texas Medical Center will offer a free KnowledgeFirst Forum on women's health at noon on Oct. 22 in the ETMC Pavilion. The forum is presented by Dr. Katherina Klouda, an OB/GYN physician and founder of Four Seasons Women's Health.

Throughout a woman's life, her body is in a constant state of change. Dr. Klouda will discuss how to successfully navigate these changes while maintaining good health.

Lunch will be served. Free parking is available next to the pavilion, 801 Clinic Drive. The gate and building will open at 11:30 a.m. and the presentation will be from noon to 1 p.m. To preregister, call 1-866-333-ETMC and press 2.