Looming ‘gonorrhoea doomsday’ could be stopped by new scientific discovery

Cases of gonorrhoea rose a staggering 26% from 2018 to 2020 in the UK, thanks to a new super-strength strain that has been almost completely resistant to antibiotics.

With the scientific community concerned that we may be lurking towards a "gonorrhoea doomsday" researchers have been scrambling for a way to defeat the new strain, something that now sounds eerily familiar.

This new gonorrhoea is now ranked in the top 12 most concerning antimicrobial-resistant bacteria by the World Health Organisation.

Thankfully, researchers from two Australian universities now reckon they've cracked the seemingly bulletproof Neisseria strain of the sexually transmitted disease (STI).

Flinders University and the Australia National University have published their work in the mBio journal, in which they identify the secret behind super-gonorrhoea's strength, hopeful that this will pave the way for more effective treatment.

Leader author Melissa Brown said: "Antimicrobial resistance in Neisseria gonorrhoeae has reached an alarming level. We need to find the strengths and weaknesses in these species.

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"In this study, we have focused on the manner by which drugs are pumped out of these cells, which helps the superbug become more resistant and able to survive treatment by multiple drugs."

The researchers managed to pinpoint exactly how super-gonorrhoea was 'pumping' the drugs away, by using a protein called MtrD that sits in the membrane of gonorrhoea cells.

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They even went one step further by identifying the part of this protein (an amino-acid sequence) which, when removed, prevents it from functioning properly.

Scientists developing treatments against super-gonorrhoea now know to focus their efforts on tackling the MtrD protein, meaning that the days of the STI being indestructible are numbered.

Brown also explained how this discovery could save money as well as our genitals, saying that repeated treatment failures in the past "lead to increased medical costs and a decrease in human general and reproductive health".

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