• Molecular infectivology

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What and how are sexually transmitted diseases contracted?

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD), also known as venereal diseases, are diseases caused by bacteria and viruses that can be transmitted through sexual activity or even through other pathways. Transmission occurs through direct contact of sperm, vaginal secretions, oral intercourse or lesions that promote contagion, in other cases they are transmitted with the exchange of infected and not sterilized objects.

What are the main symptoms?

The STD can be contracted by both men and women and, if not diagnosed and treated in adequate time, can compromise the proper functioning of organs and systems causing more or less serious diseases such as inflammation, infertility and cancer.

How are they treated?

Once the pathogen responsible for the disease has been identified, the doctor will be able to set the most appropriate therapy. It is important to underline that the STD concern both partners and it is therefore necessary to confirm or exclude a diagnostic suspect in both by submitting to tests for specific microorganisms responsible for sexually transmitted infections.

How to diagnose STD?

The Genechron Laboratory, thanks to modern molecular biology techniques, provides IDV/CE tests that allow to evaluate the presence of the genome of microorganisms with a sensitivity and reliability much higher than the classical microbiology methods.
The tests offered by Genechron ensure:

  • High reliability
  • Sensitivity
  • Specificity of reaction
  • Possibility of detecting multiple pathogens with a single buffer
  • Speed ​​in the issue of the report
  • Savings

Which pathogens can be detected?

Genechron offers customized packages based on the specific needs of the patient to search for the presence of the following pathogens:

Chlamydia trachomatis

Chlamydia trachomatis is the bacterium responsible for one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. In most cases, the infection affects women between the ages of 15 and 24. From 10 to 40% of untreated women develop pelvic inflammatory disease that can lead to infertility. In men, the infection can affect the epididymis, causing pain and fever. An infected pregnant woman, on the other hand, can pass on to the newborn the infection, which manifests itself as an inflammation of the eyes and respiratory system. Chlamydia is, in fact, one of the first causes of conjunctivitis and pneumonia in newborns. The screening test and the diagnosis of Chlamydia infection is very important for the prevention of long-term complications and the spread of infection. The conventional laboratory diagnosis is based on classical microbiology methods, however molecular tests are currently available for the direct determination of the bacterium’s DNA that allow a precise diagnosis even in those samples in which the microbial load is very low. 

Neisseria gonorrhoeae

Neisseria gonorrhoeae is the bacterium responsible for gonorrhea, one of the most widespread sexually transmitted diseases in the world. Neisseria gonorrhoeae infects urethral pathways in men and uro-genital pathways in women but can also be transmitted from mother to child during delivery. The infection is asymptomatic in 50% of cases and the symptoms, if present, are hardly distinguishable from those of other genital infections. Left untreated, gonorrhea can have serious and permanent consequences. In women it can cause inflammatory disease causing, in extreme cases, infertility. In men it can cause epididymitis, which can be painful and, if left untreated, can lead to infertility. In infants, gonorrhea can cause blindness, joint inflammation or serious even lethal blood infections. Diagnosis of gonorrhea is based on the identification of the bacterium in the genital, rectal, pharyngeal or ocular secretions. Molecular tests aimed at the identification of Neisseria gonorrhoeae’s DNA are generally more sensitive (≥90%) than the microbiological examination.

Mycoplasma genitalium

Mycoplasma genitalium is a sexually transmitted organism associated with non-gonococcal urethritis in men and several inflammatory syndromes of the reproductive tract of women such as cervicitis, endometritis, pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility. Mycoplasma genitalium is very difficult to grow in the laboratory and the limited availability of commercially available diagnostic tests has limited routine testing. The direct molecular analysis of the DNA of the bacterium allows a precise diagnosis with a more sensitive and specific test of laboratory tests such as microbiological and seriological tests.

Mycoplasma hominis

Mycoplasma hominis is a very small bacterium, commonly present in the genito-urinary system which, when the intestinal bacterial flora is altered, can replace the lactobacilli by transforming it from a diner to an opportunist. In this case it may be associated with some pathologies of the adult genital apparatus, such as bacterial vaginosis, and can degenerate into pelvic inflammatory disease. In women it can transmit the infection to the child at the time of delivery. In some cases it can cause infertility, spontaneous abortion, endometritis, salpingitis, early rupture of membranes, chorionic-amniotic infections and neonatal infections, including conjunctivitis, difficulty breathing, fever, meningitis, abscesses and congenital pneumonia, which occurs a few hours after birth. In man, on the other hand, it can determine infertility, urethritis, prostatitis and pyelonephritis. The microbiological investigation for identification by culture is extremely difficult. The direct molecular analysis of the DNA of the bacterium, on the other hand, allows a precise diagnosis in a sensitive and specific way.

Ureaplasma urealyticum/parvum

Ureaplasma urealyticum / parvum is a bacterium belonging to the mycoplasma family. In the genital mucosa, where it is part of the bacterial flora together with lactobacilli, finds the suitable environment to develop. Its excessive proliferation has been found in various pathological conditions such as: the abscess of the Bartholin's gland, vaginitis, bacterial vaginosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, post-fracture and postpartum fever, infertility, infertility, low weight birth and fetal death in utero. The identification of Ureaplasma urealyticum / parvum through microbiological analysis is difficult due to the characteristics of the microorganism and requires long timings. To date, the use of molecular tests based on direct research of the genome of Ureaplasma urealyticum / parvum eliminates the problems of culture tests and has shown greater sensitivity, specificity and reliability.

Trichomonas vaginalis

Trichomonas vaginalis is responsible in women for a widespread and contagious vaginal infection called trichomoniasis. In men, the infection is usually localized to the urethra and in most cases asymptomatic. In pregnancy, Trichomonas vaginalis infection is associated with an increase in events such as premature rupture of membranes, preterm birth and low birth weight in the child. Trichomonas tends to raise the vaginal pH, altering the intestinal bacterial flora and destroying lactobacilli that protect the internal environment from infections and allowing other microorganisms to take root more easily. Current international guidelines recommend the use of molecular tests (sensitive up to 3-5 times more than culture analysis) based on direct DNA research of the bacterium.

Papilloma virus (HPV – Human Papilloma virus)

The Papilloma virus (HPV - Human Papilloma virus) is responsible for one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, at least 80% of women contract genital HPV during their lifetime. About 120 types of papilloma viruses are known, divided into 16 groups designated progressively with the letters A to P. The overwhelming majority of the viruses of this family cause transient, asymptomatic or non-serious infections; however, if the infection persists, it may occur with a variety of skin and mucosal lesions and some may cause benign tumors such as genital and malignant condyloma such as cervical cancer, oral cavity, anus, all esophagus and larynx. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has confirmed the oncogenic evidence for 12 types of Hpv (it is estimated that Hpv 16 and Hpv 18 are responsible for over 70% of cases of cervicocarcinoma, including also the types of Hpv 45, 31, 33, 52, 58 and 35 almost 90% of cervical cancers are covered). Until recently, only the pap test was available, a cervical cytological screening to identify precancerous lesions and to intervene before their evolution in carcinoma. Today there is a molecular test, the HPV test, for the research of Hpv DNA with high oncogenic risk.