Method of Detecting Sexually Transmitted Infections

Unmet Need: Effective strategy for rapid, accurate diagnosis of Trichomonas infections.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are a major global cause of acute illness, infertility, long term disability and death. Trichomonas vaginalis is now the number one non-viral agent responsible for sexually transmitted infections (STI).  Trichomonas infections cause vaginitis in women and can result in infertility, cervical cancer and pregnancy complications.  In men, infection has been associated with an elevated risk of prostate cancer.  Although infection in men can manifest as non-gonococcal, non-chlamydial urethritis, it is frequently asymptomatic, which results in it going undiagnosed.  Identifying and treating infections at an early stage is vital to controlling the spread and long-term effects of infection.  Infection is usually easily cured with a single round of antibiotics, but what is lacking is an effective diagnostic method.  Currently available rapid tests require an invasive vaginal swab for women, and do not work for diagnosis in men.  The only other option requires a doctor’s office, trained personnel and expensive equipment.  Thus, a rapid, at-home test with reliable results for both men and women could greatly decrease the occurrence of this dangerous STI. 

The Technology: Series of epitopes (SOEs) to detect multiple microbial proteins.            

Researchers at WSU have found that serum antibody against several trichomonad immunogenic enzymes is produced in Trichomonas infected men and women.  Seeing this as a key to developing a diagnostic tool, researchers used epitope mapping to identify epitopes unique to trichomonad proteins.  They then synthesized the identified epitopes into a linear array to form a series of epitopes (SOE). When the SOE is brought into contact with a biological sample from a Trichomonas infected individual, an antigen-antibody complex forms.  Measurement of this interaction can be used as a robust, rapid diagnostic for Trichomonas infections.



•       Point of Care diagnostic tool in clinical microbiology laboratories

•       Development of an over-the-counter, rapid test for in-home use is achievable


•       This test is simple, rapid and accurate.

•       Identifies Trichomonas infections in both men and women

•       It is designed to diagnose infections caused by Trichomonas, Treponema, and Neisseria species.


Patent Information:

Utility patent application filed.


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Brena Thompson
Technology Licensing Associate
Washington State University
(509) 335-5585
Reference No: 1847


John Alderete

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