Researchers at the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) in the group of Markus Schmitt have developed a detection method for human papillomaviruses (HPV) which allows them to identify, in a quick and highly reliable manner, high-risk viruses that cause cervical cancer.
The prime risk factor for cervical cancer is an infection with human papillomaviruses. However, not all HPV types are a health hazard. Scientists distinguish between high-risk types and more harmless family members. There are detection methods available that basically allow one to precisely identify the virus type. However, current methods are not really suitable for large-scale use. In addition, it is not possible to unambiguously detect multiple infections with several different virus types.
An approach developed by virus researchers of the German Cancer Research Center now provides a promising alternative. Markus Schmitt and his colleagues describe their test method in the latest issue of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology*: They first isolate the viral genetic material from a tissue sample, amplify and label it. The enriched DNA material is subsequently mixed with different probes, i.e. small DNA fragments each of which is typical for a specific virus type. If the DNA sequences of the viral DNA under study and the probe are identical, they will bind to each other. The probe thus isolates the unknown DNA from the mixture – a process called hybridization. The probes, in turn, are coupled to tiny plastic beads of different colors, with each type of probe attached to beads of the same color. A reading device measures the amount of hybridized viral DNA on the beads. By their characteristic color, the beads tell us which viral DNA was present in the sample.
Julia Rautenstrauch | alfa
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