Rapid, affordable STI test designed by UMBC chemistry professor reaches clinical trial stage

Current common tests for sexually-transmitted infections (STI) require sending samples off to a lab to be grown and analyzed, which means that patients must wait a few days to receive the results and that the tests can be more expensive than anticipated. Chris Geddes, professor of chemistry and biochemistry and director of UMBC’s Institute of Fluorescence, has developed a new STI test that costs around $1 and allows health care providers to diagnose gonorrhea and chlamydia within eight minutes and at the point-of-care.

Funded by the National Institutes of Health, this rapid, affordable test will help patients receive treatment more quickly and decrease the spread of infections as patients wait to receive their diagnoses. On a large scale,“The Daily Record explains, “Faster results can lead to both lower health care costs and a healthier overall population.

This test fills a major public health need. “The significance of this, I don’t think can be overstated,” Geddes told The Daily Record. “There are no tests that are low-cost and very rapid.”

The STI test is being evaluated in an 1,800-sample clinical trial, with patients in Baltimore and Cincinnati. It not only detects whether the patient has gonorrhea or chlamydia but also can determine the specific strain of the STI. “This allows doctors to treat each case correctly and not risk building the resistance of the strains by exposing them to ineffective medications,” Geddes explains.

Read the full article, “UMBC prof pursues faster, cheaper STI test,” in The Daily Record. Read more about the test “UMBC researcher works on faster STD test seen as key to prevention,” in The Baltimore Sun 

Image: Chris Geddes in his lab. Photo by Marlayna Demond ‘11 for UMBC.