Cervical cancer: new diagnostic test?



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Cervical cancer: new diagnostic test coming soon? On the trail of cervical cancer. Researchers from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg and Roche Molecular Systems in Pleasanton, California are working together to develop a diagnostic test to detect malignant cell changes in the cervix.

Early detection of cervical cancer For the early detection of cervical cancer, a smear is usually taken from the cervix, which is then examined for the genome of carcinogenic human papillomavirus (HPV). Human papilloma viruses can lead to malignant changes in the cells of the cervical mucosa if the infection persists and are considered to be one of the most common causes of cervical cancer. If the DNA of carcinogenic viruses is detected in the first sample, the suspicion must be examined more closely and, if necessary, a tissue sample taken. Most of the time, the initial suspicion of a malignant disease is invalidated in the course of the second examination. According to Professor Lutz Gissmann from the German Cancer Research Center, this means that “many women have to endure unnecessary follow-up examinations and tissue extraction. Quite apart from the associated risks, those affected are frightened unnecessarily. "The previous test procedure with the search for residues of the HPV-DNA serves as a non-invasive method for the detection of an infection with the carcinogenic viruses, but is correspondingly imprecise or it is necessary in the rule of several examinations.

Detection of malignant tissue changes using the cell material in the smear Therefore, the scientists of the German Cancer Research Center had been looking for a method for a long time to be able to detect malignant changes directly on the first time using the cell material. Now the DKFZ researchers have scientifically proven that the number of certain gene transcripts ("RNA transcripts") of the papillomaviruses in infected cells can be regarded as a safe indicator for malignant tissue changes on the cervix. In order to further develop the analysis technology for a diagnostic test, the DKFZ will cooperate with the researchers from Roche Molecular Systems in the future.

Development of a diagnostic test - DKFZ and Roche to cooperate for three years From September 2010, the DKFZ and Roche will cooperate scientifically for three years to develop a corresponding diagnostic test. "Our researchers are among the world's leading HPV experts - Roche has the expertise to develop such a laboratory procedure into a test that can be routinely used in the laboratory," said Dr. Ruth Herzog, head of the technology transfer office at the German Cancer Research Center The DKFZ will therefore conduct its research in future on Roche's own platforms, which means that the technology and knowledge transfer can be transferred directly to Roche's diagnostic product line.Both Roche and the DKFZ assume that many women will be able to use the new diagnostic tests unnecessary examinations and tissue samples can be saved.

Human papilloma viruses are the main cause of cervical cancer Human papilloma viruses are considered the main cause of the development of malignant cervical cancer. According to the experts, 99 percent of these cancers are caused by chronic HPV infections. Human papilloma viruses can also trigger other diseases such as genital warts on the genital organs, but of the more than 140 different types of HPV, only 13 to 16 are currently considered to be high-risk factors for the development of pre-cancer and cervical cancer. According to the experts, HPV 16 and 18 alone are detected in 70 percent of all cases of cervical cancer.

DKFZ - largest biomedical research facility in Germany As the largest biomedical research facility in Germany, the DKFZ has been researching mechanisms of cancer development and the detection of cancer risk factors for years. Over 2,200 employees, including more than 1.00 scientists, work at the DKFZ and develop the basis for the development of new approaches in the prevention, diagnosis and therapy of cancer. In addition, education is one of the focus areas at the DKFZ. Employees of the Cancer Information Service (KID) educate cancer patients, relatives and interested citizens about the common disease cancer. The DKFZ budget is 90 percent provided by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and 10 percent by the State of Baden-Württemberg. (10/12/2010, fp)

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