Early detection of human papilloma and other viral infections

Oct 15, 2007

Scientists in Iowa are reporting development of a new, amazingly sensitive method for identifying the earliest stages of infection with human papilloma virus (HPV), a common virus that can increase the risk of cervical cancer in women. The test also has the potential for early identification of infection with other so-called DNA viruses, which cause a range of diseases that includes genital herpes and hepatitis. Their report is scheduled for the Nov. 1 issue of ACS’ Analytical Chemistry.

In the study, Edward S. Yeung and colleagues point out that the most sensitive existing test for viral infections has drawbacks. That test is the Nobel Prize-winning polymerase chain reaction (PCR), used to detect DNA in settings ranging from medical labs to crime scenes.

PCR requires an initial step in which scientists “amplify,” or copy, a DNA sample a thousand-fold before virus detection can begin. However, amplification increases the risk of false-positives and false-negatives, especially when a sample has even a tiny amount of contaminants. Since over 50 million Pap smears are performed in the United States each year to test for HPV — the leading cause of cervical cancer — a fast, simple, accurate diagnosis is essential.

The new method skips the amplification step entirely, and yet can detect the presence of less than two copies of HPV per cell — a level corresponding to very early infection. The technique, called single-molecule spectroscopy, could be easily integrated into the Pap smear method. “It can become a good clinical screening or quantification method for viral DNA in cells,” opening the door to improved screening tests for hepatitis B, herpes and other diseases.

Source: ACS

Explore further: A refined approach to proteins at low resolution

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Bacteria harbor secret weapons against antibiotics

Sep 09, 2014

The ability of pathogenic bacteria to evolve resistance to antibiotic drugs poses a growing threat to human health worldwide. And scientists have now discovered that some of our microscopic enemies may be ...

New method for non-invasive prostate cancer screening

Sep 02, 2014

Cancer screening is a critical approach for preventing cancer deaths because cases caught early are often more treatable. But while there are already existing ways to screen for different types of cancer, ...

Extinctions during human era worse than thought

Sep 02, 2014

It's hard to comprehend how bad the current rate of species extinction around the world has become without knowing what it was before people came along. The newest estimate is that the pre-human rate was ...

Recommended for you

A refined approach to proteins at low resolution

Sep 19, 2014

Membrane proteins and large protein complexes are notoriously difficult to study with X-ray crystallography, not least because they are often very difficult, if not impossible, to crystallize, but also because ...

Base-pairing protects DNA from UV damage

Sep 19, 2014

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich researchers have discovered a further function of the base-pairing that holds the two strands of the DNA double helix together: it plays a crucial role in protecting ...

Smartgels are thicker than water

Sep 19, 2014

Transforming substances from liquids into gels plays an important role across many industries, including cosmetics, medicine, and energy. But the transformation process, called gelation, where manufacturers ...

Separation of para and ortho water

Sep 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —Not all water is equal—at least not at the molecular level. There are two versions of the water molecule, para and ortho water, in which the spin states of the hydrogen nuclei are different. ...

User comments : 0