Strong evidence in support of a rapid diagnostic test for multiple STI infections has been put forward by researchers at St George’s.

Using mathematical modelling, researchers within the Applied Diagnostics Research and Evaluation Unit at the university concluded that a bespoke point-of care diagnostic device could significantly reduce the number of return clinical visits and the average time-to-cure from about a week to one day.

The research team were working with Aquarius Population Health on the project.

At present, sexual health clinics assess arriving patients with a questionnaire. After symptoms are examined by a clinician, ‘presumptive treatment’ is given, usually antibiotics, on the basis of an initial diagnosis. However, until lab results are returned, there is no way of knowing if that diagnosis is correct.

Professor Tariq Sadiq of St George’s explained: “A multiple STI test device is all about enabling specific treatment for the correct infection. The device that is being proposed would be a 4 pathogen test, for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Trichomonas vaginalis and Mycoplasma genitalium. According to our research not only would this cut treatment time, it would almost halve the existing rates of onward transmission to partners.”

The device is in early phases of development by Atlas Genetics Limited, following a grant from from Innovate UK via the Small Business Research Initiative. Innovate grants are given to small businesses to encourage collaboration with academic researchers.