Researchers develop rapid test for Chlamydia

CAMBRIDGE, England Researchers from the University of Cambridge have successfully completed the clinical trial for a new rapid test for the sexually transmitted infection Chlamydia.

Dr. Helen Lee, the lead researcher of the study, believes that the test, which is able to detect the infection in less than 30 minutes, could be a valuable addition to screening programs already in place, as well as providing a crucial diagnostic test in the developing world. An evaluation of the test in three UK clinics is reported in the British Medical Journal.

Chlamydia trachoma is the world’s most common sexually transmitted bacterial infection.

The new rapid test was developed to allow detection of Chlamydia using self-collected vaginal swabs, which is much easier to obtain than the cervical swabs required by existing rapid tests and is up to twice as accurate. The most commonly used testing format used by health facilities is the nucleic acid amplification tests. The rapid test, on the other hand, can provide results in less than 30 minutes while the nucleic acid based tests can take weeks. “The speed of the CRTs means that we can provide a ‘test and treat’ strategy, offering immediate clinical care to the patient,” Lee said. “This has the benefits of reducing the risk of complications and preventing onward transmission.”

The new Chlamydia rapid test could be used in settings such as mobile clinics and outreach clinics to help improve the screening coverage of difficult-to-reach populations, the researchers added. The development of the test was made possible with funding from the Wellcome Trust’s Technology Transfer Division. Its subsidiary, Diagnostics, will make the test available for the public in early 2008.

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