Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are worryingly on the increase, particularly among young people aged 15 to 24 years. Gonorrhoea is one of the most common STIs, with 87 million new infections worldwide every year. That’s almost 10,000 new gonorrhoea infections every hour.
World Sexual Health Day on September 4 is an important reminder of the urgent need for prevention, diagnosis and treatment, as well as to reflect on GARDP’s work towards a new and accessible treatment for gonorrhoea.
While gonorrhoea can infect anyone, it disproportionately impacts women, who often show no symptoms. Left untreated, gonorrhoea can result in infertility, life threatening ectopic pregnancies and pelvic inflammatory disease.
In pregnancy, gonorrhoea infection can lead to preterm delivery, small birth weight babies and even death. There is also the risk of transmitting the infection from a mother to her baby during childbirth.
For decades, gonorrhoea has progressively developed resistance to antibiotics that were effective in its treatment. Drug-resistant gonorrhoea has been reported in every region of the world, while some countries are finding ‘super-gonorrhoea’ infections that are untreatable by all available drugs.
But there is renewed hope. GARDP is partnering with biotech Entasis Therapeutics to develop a novel antibiotic called zoliflodacin. As a first-in-class treatment, zoliflodacin is active against resistant strains of gonorrhoea.
The treatment is currently being evaluated in a global phase 3 trial. The trial, which is assessing the effectiveness and safety of zoliflodacin against available gonorrhoea treatments, is underway in the United States, Netherlands, Thailand and South Africa.
Significantly, GARDP is working to ensure this treatment will be accessible to every person who needs it, no matter where they live.