New 30-minute STI test allows just one clinic trip

Helen Clark / Gears of Biz     08 September 2017

A new speedy test will mean that for the first time ever patients with common sexually-transmitted infections will be able to get their diagnosis and treatment in one clinical visit.

This is now possible thanks to a shoe-box sized diagnostic machine that will give results in just 30 minutes.

Experts say using these rapid tests in clinics could have a big impact on the fight against antibiotic resistant diseases such as super-gonorrhoea.

This because they enable correct diagnosis of infections that have similar signs and symptoms and therefore reduces overuse of antibiotics – which drives resistance – by avoiding the wrong type being prescribed while results are waited on.

Dr Tariq Sadiq from St George’s, University of London, which devised the test said: ‘This is a highly exciting and innovative approach to overcoming the substantial challenges to getting great technology adopted into the NHS.’

The test works by placing a swab or a small amount of urine into a test cartridge, which is then inserted into the diagnostic machine, which has been designed by innovation firm Atlas Genetics Ltd.

Now clinical trails will be held to establish the accuracy of the test and research consultancy company Aquarius Population Health will provide essential data on its cost-effectiveness.

It is then hoped the NHS will adopt the tests for use in specialised sexual health clinics as well as outreach and community settings.  

The study is being funded by a two-year grant from Innovate UK.  

Experts have warned that gonorrhoea is in danger of becoming untreatable and resistant to current antibiotics.

More than 35,000 people a year are infected with the STI in England, including record numbers of baby boomers, it was warned recently. 

But last year saw a ‘super’ version of the sexually transmitted infection sweep across Britain. 

It is said to be rapidly spreading globally because of oral sex and a decline in condom use.

Earlier this month, scientists revealed they had discovered a new antibiotic that could target incurable superbugs including super-gonorrhoea.

The bug, some strains of which are now resistant to every hospital antibiotic, was defeated by British scientists using the drug closthioamide. 

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