CHLAMYDIA TRACHOMATIS infection is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD), causing an estimated 92 million new cases of genital Chlamydia infection every year. Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that can be cured with antibiotics. However, many patients experience no symptoms and often go undiagnosed and untreated, which may lead to severe health consequences, especially for women where at least 70%of Chlamydia infections are asymptomatic. If left untreated in women, these infections can result in pelvic inflammatory disease, causing long-term complications such as chronic pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancy, and infertility. In the U.S., untreated STDs are estimated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Atlanta, GA, to cause at least 24 000 women to become infertile each year. Although serious health consequences are less common among men, untreated Chlamydia infection can cause epididymitis, urethritis, and in rare cases, sterility. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential, but many patients do not attend specialist genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics for testing due to the asymptomatic nature of the infection and the stigma associated with these clinics. In an attempt to address these problems, government-sponsored programs have been established in the U.K., U.S., and elsewhere that aim to increase testing by promoting opportunistic screening at a variety of new venues such as family planning and other primary healthcare clinics. While screening promotes increased testing, result turnaround times of 5–10 days and the frequent failure of patients to attend follow-up appointments (drop-out rates of up to 50% are frequent in some U.S. public health clinics) combine to be a major factor in preventing effective treatment. Such delays in treatment also contribute to the spread of the disease.
An accurate, reliable, and rapid point-of-care (PoC) test for Chlamydia would enable a patient to be tested and treated in a single short visit, whether this is at the GUM or family planning clinic, doctor’s office, or pharmacy. To meet the need for a rapid PoC diagnostic test for Chlamydia, Atlas Genetics is developing Velox, a platform technology capable of running both molecular and immunoassays with a time-to-result of under 25 min.