Although cervical cancer is an easily curable disease if detected early, it continues to claim the lives of hundreds of thousands of women worldwide. Healthcare disparities have resulted in cervical cancer incidence and mortality that are five times higher in low and middle income countries (LMICs) than in high-income countries. In the United States, cervical cancer mortality rates are twice as high among rural women than their urban counterparts. The wide disparity in cervical cancer incidence rates and deaths is attributed to both higher HPV infection rates and a lack of accessible screening and treatment of pre-invasive cervical lesions. The current standard of care in the US, a cytology-based Pap smear, requires resource intensive laboratory and clinical specialists with a long turnaround time from sample collection to result. Alternatives, such as visual inspection with acetic acid and emerging HPV-targeted tests, have poor specificity for cervical cancer, leading to overtreatment that can cause complications including infertility and pre-term births and that further the burden on limited healthcare resources. This proposal aims to create an integrated point-of-care screening test that can be used by healthcare providers in under-resourced settings to obtain relevant clinical insights, including cervical cancer risk stratification, and enable same-visit treatment of high risk cervical lesions. Building on our preliminary development of a highly sensitive paper-based immunoassay to test for the key cervical cancer biomarker, valosin containing protein (VCP), the objective of this proposal is to combine VCP detection with three other known cervical cancer protein biomarkers, in a sensitive and specific single-step point- of-care assay. Specific milestones include: 1) Integrating and optimizing multiplex detection of cervical cancer biomarkers into a simple paper-based sample-to-answer device. 2) Evaluating the operational and performance metrics of the test in retrospective cervical swab samples. The outcome of this proposal will be a highly characterized point-of-care test with high sensitivity (95%) and specificity (90%) to detect high-risk cervical intraepithelial neoplasia and invasive cervical cancer within 40 minutes. This affordable solution for cervical cancer screening and control programs will be applicable in LMICs and will provide highly sensitive monitoring of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia in the US, where it will be especially impactful in high-risk populations that are currently underserved by existing screening programs.
Due to disparities in healthcare access, women in rural America and other low-resource settings worldwide are twice as likely to die from cervical cancer as their urban and high-resource counterparts. We will develop a paper- based sample-to-answer test that provides sensitive and specific detection of high-risk pre-cancer and invasive cervical cancer at the point-of-care. This test will enable rapid screening and reduce barriers to same-visit treatment, ultimately reducing cervical cancer disparities by saving the lives of patients whose disease would have otherwise be missed.