Fluorescent Imaging Agent May Allow for Better Cervical Cancer Detection

August 12, 2021 09:51:04

Recently conducted research has discovered that cervical cancer can be detected by clinicians using a handheld microscope and a topical fluorescent imaging agent dubbed PARPi-FL. This imaging technique targets the PARP1 enzyme, which is overexpressed in this type of cancer. It has the potential to revolutionize cervical cancer biopsies and screenings.

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women. Data shows that in 2018, nearly 600,000 women were diagnosed with this cancer type globally, with roughly 310,000 of them succumbing to the disease.

Almost 99% of cervical cancer cases are caused by human papilloma virus (“HPV”), which can remain dormant in the female body for years before cervical cells begin to turn cancerous. HPV is an extremely common virus that is transmitted through sexual contact. There are high-risk and low-risk HPV infections. Most infections cause no symptoms and resolve on their own, while some infections cause cervical cancer to develop.

This type of cancer still has a high prevalence rate around the world, despite efforts in ailment prevention with screening programs and HPV vaccinations. HPV vaccines have been developed to prevent almost all of the infection’s strains. However, cervical cancer remains a huge issue in public health, particularly in low-resource areas where HPV prevalence is high.

Elizabeth Jewell, an attending physician on gynecologic oncology, stated that cervical cancer was a clinical problem that could be avoided by a noninvasive, in-vivo and cost-effective diagnosis technique.

The researchers conducted cervical biopsies from human and animal models in which PARP1 enzyme expression was evaluated. The cervical cells were stained with the fluorescent imaging agent and observed using a handheld confocal fiber optic microscope. The researchers also conducted an analysis of PARP1 expression in cells extracted from the cervix as well as histological exams to verify the enzyme’s presence.

They found that in comparison to normal surrounding tissue, the fluorescent imaging agent demonstrated higher uptake in lesions, which correlated with PARP1 expression in the area. The tumor cells also demonstrated a disorganized pattern, which was easy to discern through the use of PARPi-FL.

Visiting MSK investigator Paula Demetrio de Souza Franca noted that examining lesions using this approach was painless, safe and noninvasive, and could possibly be used to accurately diagnose various types of cancer like cervical cancer, as well as manage their treatment. She added that the fluorescent imaging agent could also be used in the identification of cancer cells during colposcopy procedures as well as play the role of a more accurate guide for biopsies and maybe even do away with biopsies.

The study was published in the “Journal of Nuclear Medicine.”

A lot of investment is being directed towards studying cancer because it is a global challenge impacting significant numbers of people. However, since cancer occurs in various forms, it has often been problematic to diagnose some forms early enough, and that may be why companies such as Predictive Oncology (NASDAQ: POAI) are focused on harnessing the power of data analytics and AI to improve diagnosis within the global oncology sector.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Predictive Oncology (NASDAQ: POAI) are available in the company’s newsroom at http://ibn.fm/POAI

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