Diagnostic for Paratuberculosis Infection: Johne’s and Crohn’s Disease


Available for Licensing

IP Status

​US Utility Patent: US 8846372


​Torsten M Eckstein
Julia M Inamine Eckstein

At A Glance

​Researchers at Colorado State have developed a highly specific diagnostic method to identify Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) using lipidomics.  Because members of the family Mycobacteriaceae contain large numbers of complex lipids in their cell wall, the group identified several cell envelope and culture filtrate lipids present in MAP, but otherwise absent from MAA.  

The patented method allows for accurate diagnosis of Johne’s disease in animals, and furthermore can be a key tool in diagnosis of MAP infection in humans.  With MAP identified as a potential cause of Crohn’s disease, this diagnostic tool may lead to the development of effective treatments for those inflicted.

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Licensing Director

Steve Foster

Reference No.:  05-043


​Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP), the causative agent of Johne’s disease (a contagious, chronic, and fatal infection) in cattle and other ruminants, is proposed to be at least one of the causes of Crohn disease in humans.  MAP and Mycobacterium avium subspecies avium (MAA), a closely related opportunistic environmental bacterium, share 95% of their genes and exhibit homologies of more than 99% between these genes. MAA is an environmental bacterium found in soil and water that causes opportunistic infections in humans, including lymphadenitis in children, “hot tub lung” in the general population, and systemic infection in immunocompromised individuals. Both diseases are presented as a chronic inflammation of the bowel.

The ability to differentiate between these mycobacteria is important in diagnostic medicine.  Furthermore, the identification of molecules specific for MAP is essential for understanding its pathogenicity and for development of useful diagnostic tools for those suffering from severe disease.

  • Diagnostic is highly specific to MAP
  • Currently no highly specific diagnostic tests for Johne’s or Crohn’s Disease
  • Diagnostic for paratuberculosis infection in humans – particularly those with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or other inflammatory bowel diseases
  • Diagnostic for any paratuberculosis infection – including cattle, sheep, goats, bison, domestic deer and elk (in ruminants, this is referred to as Johne’s Disease)
  • Use as an immunomodulator – research targeting immune regulations for the treatment of disease, or adjuvant development

Kuenstner JT, Chamberlin W, Naser SA, Collins MT, Dow CT, Aitken JM, Weg S, Telega G, John K, Haas D, Eckstein TM, Kali M, Welch C, Petrie T. Resolution of Crohn’s disease and complex regional pain syndrome following treatment of paratuberculosis. World J Gastroenterol. 2015 Apr 7;21(13):4048-62. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v21.i13.4048. PMID: 25852293; PMCID: PMC4385555.

Eckstein TM, Chandrasekaran S, Mahapatra S, McNeil MR, Chatterjee D, Rithner CD, Ryan PW, Belisle JT, Inamine JM. A major cell wall lipopeptide of Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis. J Biol Chem. 2006 Feb 24;281(8):5209-15. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M512465200. Epub 2005 Dec 7. PMID: 16339155.

Last updated: October 2020

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