The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) continues to support a comprehensive, multidisciplinary program of research on N. 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 this bacterium attaches to host cells
How it gets 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 resistance. This is particularly important because strains of N. gonorrhoeae that are resistant to recommended antibiotic treatments has been increasing and is 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 (preparations that can be inserted into the vagina to prevent infection) that are effective and easy for women to use. Recently, scientists have determined the complete genome (genetic blueprint) for N. gonorrhoeae. They are using this information to help them better understand how the bacterium causes disease and becomes resistant to antibiotics.