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Gonorrhea on the Path to Becoming Untreatable

JUL 11, 2017 | KRISTI ROSA
All hope is not lost, however. Working together with The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, WHO is launching a nonprofit organization, Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP) dedicated to developing new antibiotic treatments for gonnorhea and ensuring that those who need these treatments the most can get them. The organization will also focus on promoting correct antibiotic use, in order for the drugs to “remain effective for as long as possible.”

“To address the pressing need for new treatments for gonorrhea, we urgently need to seize the opportunities we have with existing drugs and candidates in the pipeline,” Dr. Manica Balasegaram, GARDP Director, explained in the press release. “In the short term, we aim to accelerate the development and introduction of at least one of these pipeline drugs, and will evaluate the possible development of combination treatments for public health use.” She continued, “Any new treatment developed should be accessible to everyone who needs it, while ensuring it’s used appropriately, so that drug resistance is slowed as much as possible.”

Gonorrhea can be prevented if individuals engage in safer sex practices. In fact, with more information, education, and communication, researchers hope that individuals will be able to identify associated symptoms and thus, receive the treatment that they need. The problem is, there are no rapid point-of-care diagnostic tests available for gonorrhea, and, often, those who are infected do not present with any telltale signs of infection; this means that they can remain untreated and develop serious complications.

To add to these issues, many times if an individual presents with symptoms that are similar to those associated with gonorrhea, many practitioners proactively treat them accordingly, even though they may not be infected with gonorrhea. This misdiagnosis, and unnecessary prescribing are also contributing factors to the growing resistance of the bacteria.

“To control gonorrhea, we need new tools and systems for better prevention, treatment, earlier diagnosis, and more complete tracking and reporting of new infections, antibiotic use, resistance, and treatment,” Dr. Marc Sprenger, Director of Antimicrobial Resistance at WHO commented in the news release. New antibiotics and diagnostic tools that are capable of predicting “which antibiotics will work on that particular infection” are needed in order to cut down on the alarming numbers, he concluded.
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