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Medicine

Breakthrough chlamydia treatment

Chlamydia is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection in the world, with approximately 100 million new cases each year. If untreated, complications from chlamydial infection can result in serious reproductive and other health problems.

chlamydia infection

Current tests for chlamydia do not capture differences between strains, so a patient receives only a positive or negative result, without distinguishing the nature of the infective strain. This makes it impossible to determine whether a person who tests positive again after an antibiotic treatment has picked up a second infection or if their treatment has failed.

Thanks to a breakthrough in the study of the bacteria’s genetics by Professor Ian Clarke and Southampton’s Molecular Microbiology Group, new treatments and a vaccine for this silent epidemic may soon be possible. Using whole genome sequencing, they are showing that the exchange of DNA between different strains of Chlamydia to form new strains is much more common than expected. The more we learn about these different strains, the better we can understand how they spread in human populations and how to treat them.

‘This is a very significant advance in the study of chlamydia and we are proud to be the first people to achieve this’ says Ian. ‘Previously people had been unable to study chlamydial genetics and this has created a barrier to the comprehensive study of this disease.’

Check out our Infection and Immunology Research Group pages

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