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Purdue researchers develop quick cervical cancer test similar to home pregnancy strips

Researchers at Purdue University are developing low-cost, easy-to-use testing strips for the early detection of cervical cancer.

The ultra-sensitive, lateral flow strips are similar to home pregnancy tests. The color on the strip changes within 15-20 minutes to indicate specific proteins linked to cervical cancer. Current testing for the disease, which is the fourth most common kind of cancer for women, relies on the detection of human papillomavirus (HPV), an infection that could betray the presence of cervical cancer. However, these tests aren’t specific enough to be truly effective.

“This field really needs an additional way to test for cervical cancer,” says Joseph Irudyaraj, professor of engineering at Purdue and co-developer of the lateral flow test strips.

“A test that can report cervical cancer right away is instrumental in a lot of low- and middle-income countries where women often get HPV tests and then never come back,” he adds. “In higher-income countries, it’s important that anything beyond HPV tests have the ability to complement those tests.”

Having proven their test’s effectiveness, the Purdue researchers are now working on an early prototype. “We’re working to greatly improve the detection limit of our testing,” says Wen Ren, a postdoctoral researcher at Purdue and co-developer of the strips. “That will make it much easier to detect cervical cancer based on a very low amount of markers in smaller samples.”

The researchers plan to eventually broaden the strip’s application to the early detection of other diseases such as infectious pathogens. The Purdue Research Foundation’s Office of Technology Commercialization patented the technology, which is now available for licensing.

Source: Purdue University

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