Two simple new tests to detect Chlamydia trachomatis are springing onto the market virtually at once. They promise an end to an era when most physicians ignored the preponderant venereal disease-causing organism in the United States because there was no practical way to detect it.
The microorganism survives only inside living cells, and the culture techniques for keeping it alive are technically demanding. One new test uses a special solution to break down cell walls of epithelial cells and employs antibodies that detect chlamydia group antigens on the surface of the exposed organisms or the extracellular elementary bodies—dead or alive— with techniques now routine in research laboratories. This enzyme-linked immunoassay, the first test to emerge, was devised by Abbott Laboratories, North Chicago, Ill, and is in limited distribution.
Close on its heels is a competing method—just approved for marketing by the Food and Drug Administration—that detects the organism with a