An international research team, led by scientists at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) in Montreal, has demonstrated that rapid and point-of-care tests (POC) for syphilis are as accurate as conventional laboratory tests. The findings, which were published in PLoS ONE, call for a major change in approach to syphilis testing and recommend replacing first line laboratory tests with POC tests globally, especially in resource-limited settings.
"There is a need to embrace rapid and POC tests for syphilis in global settings," argues Dr. Nitika Pant Pai, the study's senior and corresponding author, clinical researcher at the RI-MUHC and assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at McGill University. "This meta-analysis generates global evidence across all populations for POC tests for syphilis and is the first to use sophisticated analyses to explore the accuracy of POC tests compared to the best reference standards."
Currently, syphilis is screened using conventional laboratory-based tests that can take up to three weeks to deliver results. These tests require chemical agents, trained staff and a continuous supply of electricity, which are not readily available in some parts of the world. Rapid and POC tests can be performed on a simple finger stick sample one patient at a time, and the results communicated to the patient within 20 minutes, saving time and helping doctors order confirmatory tests and rapidly flagging patients who need treatment.
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the rod-like bacterium Treponema pallidum. It is transmitted between sexual partners through direct contact with a Syphilis sore. It may also be transmitted from mother to foetus during pregnancy or at birth, resulting in congenital syphilis. "As well timely screening and treatment in first trimester is extremely important for pregnant women to prevent still births, pre-term births and mother-to-child transmission of syphilis," adds Yalda Jafari, the study's first author and a former master's student of Dr. Pant Pai.
As many as 50 million people worldwide are being treated for syphilis and about 12 million new cases are diagnosed every year. However, approximately 90% of those infected do not know it, and this is the driving force behind the worldwide epidemic. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) often refers to syphilis as the "great imitator," because many of its symptoms are similar to other diseases.
"Our study has major worldwide implications for populations living in rural areas with limited access to healthcare," says Dr. Pant Pai. "These tests offer the potential to expedite first line screening in settings where people have no access to a primary care physician or where laboratories take more than a week to deliver results."
About this study
The study entitled "Are Treponema pallidum Specific Rapid and Point-of-Care Tests for Syphilis Accurate Enough for Screening in Resource Limited Settings? Evidence from a Meta-Analysis", was coauthored by Yalda Jafari (Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, McGill University, Canada); Rosanna W. Peeling (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK); Sushmita Shivkumar (Clinical Epidemiology and McGill University , Canada); Christiane Claessens (Institut national de santé publique, Canada); Lawrence Joseph (Division of Clinical Epidemiology, Department of Medicine, McGill University/RI-MUHC and Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, McGill University, Canada); and Nitika Pant Pai (Division of Clinical Epidemiology, Department of Medicine, McGill University and RI-MUHC, Canada).
This work was funded by a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
Click on the link below to access the PDF: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0054695
Useful linksPLoS ONE: plosone.org
Julie Robert | EurekAlert!
Study suggests possible new target for treating and preventing Alzheimer's
02.12.2016 | Oregon Health & Science University
The first analysis of Ewing's sarcoma methyloma opens doors to new treatments
01.12.2016 | IDIBELL-Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy