Gonorrhea affects 78 million people worldwide. Of the total number of people infected, 35.2 million live in the Western Pacific area, 11.4 million in Southeast Asia and the African continent, while the American continent has 11 million people affected and in Western Europe and Eastern Europe, 4.7 million and 4.5 million, respectively, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
It is a widespread infection, especially in young people aged 15 to 24, and belongs to the group of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). In the United States, 550,000 cases were reported in 2017, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
This STD affects both men and women and can cause infections of the genitals, rectum, and throat. If left untreated, gonorrhea infection can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, infertility and an increased risk of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection. Pregnant women can pass the infection to their babies, who may become blind or develop life-threatening infections as a result.
Gonorrhea is caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which has progressively developed resistance to each of the antibiotics used to treat it.
New Drug to Treat Gonorrhea Developed In The US
Now, a new drug shows promise for successfully treating gonorrhea. It is an oral antibiotic called zoliflodacin, which was well tolerated and effectively cured most cases of uncomplicated gonorrhea when tested in a clinical trial sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and whose scope was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Zoliflodacin was developed by Entasis Therapeutics based in Waltham, Massachusetts, USA and represents a new type of oral antibiotic that acts on DNA in a different way than the antibiotics currently being used.
“The rate of reported cases of gonorrhea in the United States has risen 75% from a historic low in 2009, and antibiotic resistance has significantly reduced the number of treatment options for this disease,” said NIAID Director Anthony Fauci. “Research findings published today suggest that zoliflodacin has the potential to be a useful, easy-to-administer oral antibiotic for treating gonorrhea,” he added.
The study was led by Dr. Stephanie Taylor, of the Louisiana State University Health Science Center in New Orleans, USA. The researchers recruited patients from sexual health clinics there and also from Seattle, Indianapolis, Indiana, Birmingham, Alabama and Durham, and North Carolina.