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As untreatable gonorrhoea spreads, new research sparks hope for vaccine

By Sola Ogundipe

GONORRHOEA is becoming untreatable, but there is hope on the horizon according to findings by a team of scientists in New Zealand, who say there may be a chance for a preventative vaccine.

According to the scientists, an outer membrane vesicle vaccine designed to protect against meningitis appears to also be capable of protecting against gonorrhoea.

If this finding is confirmed, it could completely change the game when it comes to battling gonorrhoea, as it will mark the first instance of a vaccine reducing oinfections.

In their study, published in the Lancet, the scientists note that individuals who received the meningococcal vaccine were less likely to contract gonorrhoea.

“The emergence of completely drug-resistant gonorrhoea is a major concern,” Dr. Helen Petousis-Harris, Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland and lead author of the study,  stressed.

Using data from the New Zealand national vaccine registry, they compared vaccination rates in 2 groups of patients at sexual health clinics in New Zealand who had sexually transmitted diseases: those with gonorrhoea, and those with chlamydia.

“We found that people with gonorrhoea were less likely to be vaccinated than people with chlamydia, and that indicates that the “vaccine protects against gonorrhea but not chlamydia,” Petousis-Harris said. Furthermore, the scientists found that those who did receive vaccination were “significantly less likely” to become infected with gonorrhea than those who did not receive the vaccine.

These findings are leaving researchers hopeful and provide a very important breakthrough in the development of gonorrhoea vaccines. Adding a vaccine to the arsenal might help researchers get a leg up in the fight against gonorrhea.


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