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NIAID Research on Gonorrhea

NIAID supports a comprehensive, multidisciplinary program of research on Neissesria gonorrhoeae (gonococci). Researchers are trying to understand how gonococci infect cells while evading defenses of the human immune system. Studies are ongoing to find

  • How these bacteria attach to host cells
  • How they get inside cells
  • Gonococcal surface structures and how they can change
  • Human response to infection by gonococci

Together, these efforts have led to, and will lead to, further improvements in diagnosis and treatment of gonorrhea. They also may lead to development of an effective vaccine against gonorrhea.

Another important area of gonorrhea research concerns antibiotic (drug) resistance. This is particularly important because strains of N. gonorhoeae that are resistant to recommended antibiotic treatments have been increasing and are becoming widespread in the United States. These events add urgency to conduct research on and develop new antibiotics and to prevent antibiotic resistance from spreading.

NIAID also supports research to develop topical microbicides (antimicrobial preparations that can be appled inside the vagina) to prevent gonococcal infections.

Scientists have determined the complete genetic code, or sequence (genetic blueprint), of the N. gonorrhoeae genome. They are using this information to help us better understand how the bacterium causes disease and becomes resistant to antibiotics.

Featured Research

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Last Updated July 27, 2015