Public Health Ontario Researchers Awarded Grant to Develop Versatile, Low-Cost STI Testing
Public Health Ontario molecular biologist Dr. Anu Rebbapragada and medical microbiologist Dr. Vanessa Allen were recently awarded a Collaborative Health Research Projects (CHRP) grant to develop a versatile, low-cost test that can detect multiple sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Using unique “barcodes” at the molecular level, this testing method has the potential to detect multiple causes of infection more effectively and at significantly less cost than today’s leading diagnostic tests.
Once proven, common STIs such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis, trichomoniasis, herpes, chancroid, Group B streptococcus, and Candida species (yeast) could be detected in one test rather than through several separate tests.
The test would be especially useful in developing countries with high infectious disease rates and poor laboratory infrastructure. This innovative testing methodology would aim to give “point of care” results, so that a clinician could conduct the test on-site and obtain immediate results. Timely detection could significantly enhance infection control and treatment efforts in these areas.
The interdisciplinary team working on this project is an equal partnership combining molecular microbiology and clinical expertise from Drs. Rebbapragada and Allen at Public Health Ontario with biomaterials and biomedical engineering scientists from the University of Toronto (Warren Chan, Ramin Farnood and Ning Yan).
The CHRP award program is highly competitive and in 2011 only 34 of 118 applications were selected for funding.
The CHRP program supports interdisciplinary collaborative research projects involving the natural sciences, engineering or health sciences. It is funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
The awards were announced at a ceremony at the University of Toronto campus by Minister of State (Science and Technology) Gary Goodyear.
The full list of CHRP 2011 Competition Award recipients is available on the NSERC website.
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