University Helps Detect STIs Quicker

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Keeping itself as a leading research institution, the University of Southampton has recently secured funding to develop clinical equipment that can detect sexually transmitted infections in under fifteen minutes. Researchers here at Southampton University will work alongside scientific companies, LGC and OptiGene, to create the tests, hoping to improve the efficiency of STI treatment.

 The detection system will use short fluorescently-labelled DNA sequences which can detect sections of DNA with a genetic variation to identify the presence of an STI. The technologies are being developed by LGC, a leading international science-based company, whilst the University of Southampton and OptiGene will redefine and manufacture the device. The Chlamydia Research Group, based in the University’s School of Medicine, will use universally-conserved sequences from sexually transmitted bacteria as a basis for developing the tests.

The project unites scientists from the Faculties of Medicine and Natural and Environmental Sciences, who have interests in the biology of Chlamydia; the development of novel molecular probes; and the development of point-of-care molecular testing.

Professor Ian Clarke, Professor of Molecular Microbiology from the Faculty of Medicine, says, “The combination of LGC and OptiGene together with the University of Southampton is a unique partnership between industry and academia.”

Dr Paul Debenham, LGC’s Director of Innovation and Development, adds, “The goal of this project is to achieve a significant step forward in the fight against sexually transmitted infections. Simple, rapid testing, in the order of a 15-minute turnaround, will result in a significant step-change in the efficacy of STI treatment.”

With STIs such as Chlamydia being most prevalent amongst young people, this rapid testing has the potential to improve the sexual health of many young adults by enabling people to quickly gain diagnoses and seek treatment.

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