New Chlamydia test shows type of infection

May 24, 2011

A new Chlamydia test can quickly and easily demonstrate the subtype (serovar) of the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis a person is infected with. This has important clinical implications, because some Chlamydia subtypes, that particularly appear in homosexual men, need longer treatment with antibiotics. So far, it was not possible to demonstrate with one test only which subtype of Chlamydia trachomatis a person is infected with. Moreover, the new testing method is less time consuming than before. Koen Quint studied the new test in his PhD research project. The newly developed test is now commercially available. If there is no need to test the subtype, the test may also be used only to show whether someone is infected with Chlamydia. Koen Quint will defend his PhD thesis on Thursday, May 26 at VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

There are nineteen subtypes of . The classification is based on the proteins that are present on the outer surface of the Chlamydia bacteria. The genetic code in the DNA of the bacteria determines which proteins those are. The new test shows which DNA the Chlamydia bacteria contain, by which the Chlamydia subtype can be ascertained. The test also shows if someone is infected with more than one subtype. With the test result it can then be decided what antibiotic treatment option is most suitable.

Koen Quint found no evidence that Chlamydia infections are associated with the development of . Until now there were indications that Chlamydia can stimulate the development of cervical cancer in women that are infected with the (HPV). Koen Quint did not find evidence for such association in HPV-infected women. The association found earlier is probably due to the fact that Chlamydia and HPV are transmitted in the same way. Therefore, people are often simultaneously infected with both Chlamydia and HPV. 

Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted disease (STD) and may result in infertility. In the Netherlands, sixty thousand people every year are infected with trachomatis. Most infected people have no symptoms, but they can – unknowingly – infect other people.

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