U of S-India research project aims to combat antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea

A University of Saskatchewan health scientist has been awarded $113,000 from Grand Challenges Canada to develop a simple, inexpensive and rapid test to diagnose antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea, some strains of which have become resistant to almost all antibiotics. The bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae causes 106 million new gonorrhea infections every year. There is no vaccine for this "superbug."

The use of antibiotics to cure bacterial infections has saved billions of lives, but antibiotic resistant "superbugs" threaten this success.

Dr. Jo-Anne Dillon and her international team hope to develop a simple test, similar to a pregnancy test, using a urine sample, to quickly diagnose a gonorrhea infection and identify antibiotics to which the infection might be resistant.

"When the infection is not properly treated, complications can include pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility in men and women, and involuntary fetal death, leading to maternal death," said Dillon, a research scientist with the U of S Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization and a Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology of the College of Medicine.

Dillon's innovative project is one of 83 selected from more than 450 applications under the Global Challenges Canada "Stars in Global Health" program funded by the federal government. The program funds research innovations that could transform the way disease is treated in the developing world, while often benefitting the health of people in the developed world as well.

She will work with clinicians and researchers from academia and industry in both Canada and India on developing the new test which, if successful, could have applications in the treatment of other bacteria.

"Innovation powers development leading to better health and more jobs. I feel proud that Canada, through Grand Challenges Canada, has supported almost 300 bold ideas to date in our Stars in Global Health program," says Dr. Peter Singer, Chief Executive Officer of Grand Challenges Canada. "This is one of the largest pipelines of innovations in global health in the world today."


 Jennifer Thoma

Media relations

University of Saskatchewan


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