Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in N. gonorrhoeae is of significant international concern. Several high profile bodies (ECDC, CDC, WHO) have issued both global and regional action plans which aim to ensure that gonorrhoea remains a treatable infection. A consistent theme within of all the recommendations is the strong emphasis on AMR surveillance of N. gonorrhoeae isolates to monitor regional trends and to detect new and emerging resistance. However the lack of a gold standard phenotypic AMR method for N. gonorrhoeae can present a challenge for laboratories and also make data comparisons between different laboratories difficult.
In order to address this, a set of 14 well-characterised WHO N. gonorrhoeae reference strains have been described and deposited within NCTC by Dr. Magnus Unemo from the WHO Collaborating Centre in Orebro, Sweden. This panel contains strains which display examples of all sensitive and resistant phenotypes to antimicrobials (current and historic) that have been used to treat gonorrhoea. All the strains have full reference genomes available and have been extensively characterised (MLST, NG-MAST type, plasmid status etc.). It is envisaged that they will be invaluable quality control strains for any laboratory undertaking either molecular diagnostics and/or AMR testing on N. gonorrhoeae isolates for surveillance or individual patient management purposes.
Unemo M, Golparian D, Sánchez-Busó L, Grad Y, Jacobsson S, Ohnishi M, Lahra MM, Limnios A, Sikora AE, Wi T, Harris SR. The novel 2016 WHO Neisseria gonorrhoeae reference strains for global quality assurance of laboratory investigations: phenotypic, genetic and reference genome characterization. J Antimicrob Chemother. 2016
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