Gonorrhoea is the second most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection globally. The World Health Organization has identified Neisseria gonorrhoeae as a high-priority pathogen due to widespread antimicrobial resistance. Currently, there are no rapid diagnostic tests widely available to identify Neisseria gonorrhoeae which is exacerbating antimicrobial resistance problem due to notoriously inaccurate syndromic management of sexually transmitted infections, especially in low and middle-income countries.
Washington University researchers Sumanth Gandra, MD, MPH and Ige George, MD, MS, associate professors of medicine from the Division of Infectious Diseases at the School of Medicine and Srikanth Singamaneni, PhD, the Lilyan & E. Lisle Hughes Professor from the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at the McKelvey School of Engineering have received NIH funding to develop a simple, low-cost, highly sensitive rapid point of care antigen test for detecting Gonorrhoea infection. Dr. Singamaneni has developed an ultrabright fluorescent nanoconstruct, called plasmonic-fluor which can be incorporated into a lateral flow assay and has been shown to be 1,000 times more sensitive than conventional lateral flow assays. Using this plasmonic-fluor technology, Drs. Gandra, George and Singamaneni will aim to develop a rapid test to detect Gonorrhea infection. If successful, this project can address the pressing need to develop a new generation of diagnostic technologies that are compatible with the combined characteristics of low-cost instrumentation, simple assay methods, high sensitivity, accurate quantitation, and rigorous validity.