Molecular Methods To Track Super-Resistant Gonorrhea

Scientists say that their new molecular approach will enhance the ability to track and contain the spread of drug-resistant gonorrhea.

AsianScientist (Mar. 20, 2014) – A pandemic of super-resistant gonorrhea could be kept in check using new methods to track outbreaks of the disease, according to a study published in Nature Reviews Microbiology.

While antibiotics can treat gonorrhea, drug-resistant strains are increasing in many parts of the world and successful treatment is becoming more difficult.

“The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called for research into the development of alternative treatment options and enhanced gonorrhea surveillance systems,” said Associate Professor David Whiley at the University of Queensland.

Currently, resistant gonorrhea is detected through culture-based diagnosis, which involves growing live bacteria and testing it to determine susceptibility to antibiotics. This method is effective, but requires highly technical skills and resources.

“It may also be unsuccessful if samples have been transported over long distances as this may kill the bug and prevent resistance testing,” he explained.

Such issues have prompted laboratories to move away from culture-based testing, but this could compromise the detection of resistant strains and leave health authorities without early warning signs, he said.

To detect outbreaks of resistant strains, Whiley and his team have developed molecular tools that can confirm if a strain is sensitive to penicillin.

“We know that molecular methods are successful and, if used in conjunction with traditional culture-based methods, will increase our ability to track and hopefully limit the spread of super-resistant strains.

“This knowledge will enable us to quickly identify patients with resistant strains and if needed to administer more appropriate treatment and to prevent further disease transmission,” he said.

The article can be found at: Goire et al. (2014) Molecular approaches to enhance surveillance of gonococcal antimicrobial resistance.


Source: University of Queensland; Photo: Nathan Reading/Flickr/CC.

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