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Study seeks alternative antibiotic for ‘untreatable’ gonorrhoea

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Researchers from one of the country’s largest hospital trusts have begun recruiting patients to a study that is seeking to find alternative antibiotics to treat drug-resistant strains of gonorrhoea.

The team, from the trust’s sexual health department at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, is one of eight specialist sexual health centres across England involved in the study.

“Resistance to the antibiotics we use to treat gonorrhoea is increasing”

Christine Bowman

Latest data from Public Health England has highlighted a 15% increase in the number of new cases of gonorrhoea infections in 2013.

In addition, over the past 30 years, strains of gonorrhoea have become increasingly resistant to antibiotic drugs, leaving patients with fewer and fewer treatment options.

During the new study, researchers are set to test the antibiotic gentamicin to see if it could be used to treat gonorrhoea when ceftriaxone is no longer effective. Two of the trust’s research nurses will be involved in supporting the study.

Dr Christine Bowman, clinical director for communicable diseases and specialised medicine at the trust, said: “Resistance to the antibiotics we use to treat gonorrhoea is increasing, and we expect it may stop curing patients within the next few years.

“In this study, we are testing to see if an alternative antibiotic, gentamicin, is as effective as the current one,” she added.

The study is being led by Professor Jonathan Ross, who is based at the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.

The work is being funded by the National Institute of Health Research Health Technology Assessment Programme.

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