TACKLING BIG PROBLEMS WITH SMALL PARTICLES: NANO-BASED RAPID BIOSENSORS FOR DETECTING SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
With an estimated 500 million annual cases worldwide, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are of major global concern, as they are responsible for many preventable illnesses and death for men, women, and youth in sub-Saharan Africa. The most common STIs—chlamydia and gonorrhea—are easily treatable by antibiotics. Nonetheless, conventional methods for diagnosing STIs are high complexity, high cost, invasive, and time intensive. This contributes to low use of these technologies by clinical agencies and low uptake of clinical screening services by high-risk groups. There is a need to explore and develop portable, low-cost, easy-to-use, and rapid tests for the diagnosis and treatment of curable STIs. Nanotechnology has the potential to develop these point-of-care devices for the screening of curable STIs in countries with high STI burden but limited health resources. Only a few nanoparticle-based biosensors have been developed to detect sexually transmitted infectious disease pathogens. To date, research on nano-based biosensor detection of infectious pathogens has not expanded to applications for STIs. These biosensors would increase the utilization of clinical screening for STIs by decreasing time between diagnosis and treatment. Moreover, identifying a low-cost, low-complexity solution would facilitate uptake by national and local public health systems in sub-Saharan African countries.
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