UCLA scientists developed a new laboratory test that will expand antibiotic treatment options for patients with gonorrhea.
Physicians began to use ceftriaxone to treat gonorrhea after the drug ciprofloxacin developed a resistance to the disease in the late ’90s and early 2000s. However, UCLA researchers wanted to expand the potential to use the drug ciprofloxacin since previous studies have shown it is effective 80 percent of the time.
In the lab test created by the researchers, physicians are able to determine whether the drug is effective before they administer it to a patient. Physicians run DNA tests and search for a mutated gene in a patient’s gonorrhea bacteria. People who have bacteria with the mutated gene can be effectively treated with ciprofloxacin.
Researchers compared the data for physicians who used the lab test versus physicians who did not use the lab test over a nine-month period. They found that physicians who used the lab test were able to treat some patients with ciprofloxacin instead of ceftriaxone. Physicians who did not use the lab test only prescribed ceftriaxone.
Physicians who used the lab test went from prescribing patients ceftriaxone 100 percent to 60 percent of the time, while ciprofloxacin prescription increased from 0 percent to 40 percent.
Researchers believe that the physicians prescribing less ceftriaxone and more ciprofloxacin can prevent gonorrhea’s resistance to ceftriaxone in the future, as well as allow for more options for treating gonorrhea.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gonorrhea’s antibiotic resistance is considered an urgent threat to public health.