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Researchers have developed a new assay for rapid and sensitive detection of Chlamydia trachomatis, the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in humans. This procedure takes less than 20 minutes and can be easily performed at the point of care (POC) during the patient's visit, reports the Journal of Molecular Diagnostics.
C. trachomatis affects 5 percent to 10 percent of the population and is particularly common in young adults under 25 years. It is a major public health concern due to its prevalence and potential severe long-term consequences. One of the main reasons it is so prevalent is that in the majority of cases (75 percent of women and 50 percent of men) there are minimal to no symptoms, and it therefore often goes undiagnosed. Infection is associated with non-gonococcal urethritis in men and several inflammatory reproductive tract syndromes in women such as inflammation of the uterine cervix and pelvic inflammatory disease. Untreated, the infection increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy and is one of the leading causes of female infertility worldwide.
The assay uses recombinase polymerase amplification (RPA), a nucleic acid amplification technique (NAAT), to detect C. trachomatis directly from urine samples. Because the assay's novel approach does not require the purification of total DNA from the urine sample, the need for specialized equipment is eliminated. The procedure is significantly less laborious, less time-consuming, and consequently less expensive. It is relatively simple to perform and could therefore be applied in numerous POC settings.
"The assay enables highly specific C. trachomatis detection with sensitivity levels significantly improved compared to currently available C. trachomatis POC assays," says Ãlo Langel, PhD, professor of molecular biotechnology at the University of Tartu, Estonia, and professor of neurochemistry, at Stockholm University in Sweden.