Recent advances in the cultivation of the tubercle bacillus
British Journal of Tuberculosis
Since the discovery of the tubercle bacillus by Koch in 1882, probably more attention has been paid to the problems associated with tuberculosis than to those of any other disease. In spite, however, of an enormous amount of research, many of the more difficult and important problems have remained unsolved or have been only partially elucidated. Much of our lack of knowledge can be explained by the difficulties which have been met with in obtaining cultures of the tubercle bacillus. Until
... cillus. Until comparatively recently the cultivation of Bacillus tuberculosis was a matter of great difficulty, and in consequence most of our knowledge has been obtained from the results of inoculation experiments in animals. Considerable advance has, however, been made within the last few years. In the first place, certain agents have been devised which are capable of isolating tubercle bacilli from other organisms with which they are usually mixed in tuberculous tissues and excretions ; and, in the second place, new culture media capable of giving rapid and abundant growth of the bacillus have been introduced. ]3y methods involving the combination of these two procedures it has been found possible to obtain direct cultures from such materials as sputum, urine, joint fluids, and caseous material. Of the agents which have been used for the isolation of the tubercle bacillus, the most satisfactory consists of a mixture of sodium hypochlorite and sodium hydrate in certain proportions. This reagent, which was introduced by Uhlenhuth 1 in 19o8 under the name of " antiformin," causes rapid liquefaction of sputum, pus, and other fluids, and destroys practically all organisms except those of the acidfast group. The latter, owing probably to their fatty content, are protected from the destructive sterilizing effect of the antiformin, and are found in the deposit which results on centrifugalizing the mixture or allowing it to sediment. Uhlenhuth showed that not only were 1 Uhlenhuth : BerL Kiln. Woch., lxv., No. 29, 19o8.