New gonorrhea antibiotic shows efficacy in small trial

A new antibiotic to treat gonorrhea has shown promising results in a small phase 2 trial.

The results of the trial, published yesterday in The New England Journal of Medicine, show that zoliflodacin, a single-dose oral antibiotic with a mechanism of action that differs from currently available therapies, was highly effective in treating patients with urogenital and rectal gonorrhea infections and was well-tolerated. But the cure rates were lower in patients who had gonorrhea infections of the throat (pharyngeal).

Zoliflodacin is one of three antibiotics in development for Neisseria gonorrhoeae, one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. Developed by Entasis Therapeutics, the drug has been “fast-tracked” for development by the US Food and Drug Administration and will soon be tested in a larger, multinational phase 3 trial conducted in partnership with the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP).

The need for new treatment options for gonorrhea has grown urgent as resistance to the current treatment regimen of azithromycin and ceftriaxone rises worldwide. Although this regimen remains mostly effective, it is the last remaining treatment option for N gonorrhoeae, a bacterium that develops resistance quickly and has cycled through several other antibiotics. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that widespread gonorrhea treatment failure could be on the horizon if new drugs aren’t developed.

“The results are very encouraging, because we have not had a new drug come down the pipeline in a long time for gonorrhea, and this is the perfect time, now that we are starting to see resistance,” lead investigator Stephanie Taylor, MD, a professor of medicine and microbiology at Louisiana State University School of Medicine, told CIDRAP News.

Source: CIDRAP

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