SAN JOSE, CA - March 13, 2019 - Shield Diagnostics, an Andreessen Horowitz-backed clinical laboratory tackling antibiotic resistance by bringing precision medicine to infectious disease, announced the launch of Target-NG, a rapid molecular test for antibiotic susceptibility in Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
A common sexually transmitted infection, Gonorrhea has quickly become resistant to most major classes of antibiotics and resistance has now been reported in the final class of antibiotics we have left, requiring those patients to be hospitalized and treated with broad spectrum antibiotics in order to be cured. With 820,000 cases of Gonorrhea each year in the US, the CDC has named antibiotic resistant gonorrhea (dubbed “Super Gonorrhea”) a top 3 urgent public health threat.
To slow the rate of antibiotic resistance, the last line of defence must only be used when strictly necessary. First line antibiotics can be used in the majority of patients if a precision medicine approach is taken to identify the specific resistance patterns of an infection & the appropriate drug then prescribed. Such an approach is being taken by the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, who recently announced revised treatment guidelines to recommend treating with ciprofloxacin if susceptibility results are available prior to treatment.
“Rapid molecular testing for ciprofloxacin resistance allows for smarter medicine,” said Dr. Jeffrey D. Klausner, a professor of infectious disease medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Right now we’re treating gonorrhea with a sledgehammer, we’re treating everything with the same exact regime. And it’s not a surprise that the organism will become resistant to what we’re currently using.”
Ciprofloxacin can be used to treat 80% of infections, and is 99.8% effective when susceptibility has been determined. Because it is administered as a single oral dose, rather than the current injectable treatment, clinicians can prescribe antibiotics for the patient to give to their partners, ensuring that they are treated as well.
“Shield has launched Target-NG to help clinicians provide a precision medicine approach to Gonorrhea treatment.” said lead scientist on the project Dr. Nidhi Gupta. “Target-NG can determine if a given gonorrhea infection is susceptible to ciprofloxacin with the same turnaround time as regular gonorrhea screening tests.” said Fred Turner, the company’s CEO. “This is enabling prescription of a single-dose pill (ciprofloxacin) as an effective treatment for gonorrhea”. The test is available from urine, rectal & pharyngeal samples, ensuring that complete care is provided for higher risk groups.