New noninvasive urine test for early detection of cervical cancer shows promise

New urine-based test could make cervical cancer screening more accessible and less invasive, potentially increasing early detection rates

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Biovoice News DNA Genetics
New Delhi: In a significant advancement for women’s health, researchers have developed a new noninvasive urine test that shows promise for the early detection of cervical cancer by identifying specific proteins linked to the disease. This innovative approach aims to make cervical cancer screening more accessible and less invasive, potentially encouraging more women to participate in regular screenings.
Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women, with approximately 660,000 new cases and 350,000 deaths worldwide in 2022 alone. Almost all cases are linked to high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) infections. Current screening methods, such as Pap smears and HPV DNA tests, are invasive and require a visit to a healthcare provider, which can be uncomfortable and inconvenient for many women.
Recent research suggests that detecting HPV16 E7 oncoproteins, which are critical markers of cervical cancer risk, may provide a more accurate assessment of cancer risk compared to traditional methods that focus on detecting HPV DNA. The new urine test, developed by a team of researchers led by Professor Etsuro Ito from the Department of Biology at Waseda University, Japan, along with Professor Toshiyuki Sasagawa from Kanazawa Medical University, Japan, and Dr. Martin Müller from the German Cancer Research Center, Germany, aims to detect these oncoproteins in urine samples using an ultrasensitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).
The findings of this research were published in the journal Microorganisms on June 14, 2024. Professor Ito explained, “Cancer can be prevented by vaccination before it develops and by regular screening. But screening is a big hurdle for young women. Our new urine test can detect HPV16 E7 proteins at extremely low levels. This means that women may be able to screen for cervical cancer without the discomfort and inconvenience of a traditional Pap test.”
The ELISA test developed by the researchers was able to identify E7 oncoproteins in the urine of women with different stages of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), a precursor to cervical cancer. The test detected E7 proteins in 80% of women with CIN1, 71% with CIN2, and 38% with CIN3, suggesting that the presence of E7 oncoproteins correlates with lower-grade CIN lesions. The researchers theorize that this discrepancy may be due to variations in the HPV life cycle or oncogenic activity.
Professor Ito added, “We believe that the E7 oncoprotein is critical in the early stages of HPV-related cervical carcinogenesis and may play a more significant role in the progression of CIN1 and CIN2 than in CIN3.”
This new urine test offers a noninvasive alternative to traditional cervical cancer screening methods, potentially increasing participation rates, especially in low- and middle-income countries where access to healthcare facilities is limited. With further development and validation, this test could become a standard tool in the fight against cervical cancer, helping to save lives through earlier detection and treatment.
Professor Ito concluded, “This new method holds great promise for the early detection and prevention of cervical cancer. We are optimistic that further development and validation of this assay will lead to its widespread use in clinical settings.”