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STD testing approved for HPV detection

Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

A China-based company that develops and manufactures medical diagnostic devices announced this week that it received government approval for an analytical system that performs STD testing.

The company, China Medical Technologies, had developed Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR) technology, previously used to analyze proteins, nucleic acids and viruses, to test for human papillomavirus (HPV). The SPR system was approved by the State Food and Drug Administration of China on Monday, Reuters reports.

Human papillomavirus is an STD that infects skin and mucous membranes, often causing warts and cervical cancer. China Medical's SPR system detects the virus using an HPV-DNA biosensor chip, which delivers results on a real-time and online basis.

"We are pleased to receive the SFDA approval for our SPR system in a timely manner," CEO of China Medical Technologies, Xiaodong Wu, told the news source. He added that an array of diagnostic tests, including the SPR system, HPV-DNA chip and cervical cancer FISH probes, "can guide physicians to determine and apply effective treatment in the early stages of cervical diseases to reduce the risk of cervical cancer as well as provide early detection."

Company officials note that the SPR system can also be used to detect biomarkers which indicate the presence of infectious diseases, cancers, cardiovascular disorders and immune system disorders.

HPV: Knowing the risks

Doctors have warned that because the symptoms of HPV are not clearly visible, especially in men, many individuals unknowingly pass on the virus during sexual intercourse.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 20 million Americans are infected with HPV and 6.2 million more will become infected each year. The federal health agency estimates that more than 50 percent of sexually active men and women contract the virus at some point in their lives.

Furthermore, about 10 percent of women exposed to the HPV virus will develop long-term infections that put them at risk for cervical cancer. Because cervical cancer is asymptomatic in its early stages, doctors recommend STD and cancer testing for early detection of the disease.

Though the most common symptoms of HPV are genital warts and cervical cancer, researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center have determined that the virus may have a significant role in causing nasopharyngeal cancer - a rare head and neck disease.

Dr Thomas Carey, co-director of the head and neck oncology program at the Cancer Center explained, "This research suggests that there is a changing etiology for nasopharyngeal cancer in the North American population that may mirror the HPV-positive epidemic."

Preventative measures

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in conjunction with the CDC, has approved two vaccines to combat the effects of HPV in women.

In 2006, the FDA approved the use of Gardasil, a vaccine against certain types of HPV, for young girls.

Kendra Williams, administrator of community health and epidemiology explained to KMSU news that Gardasil "protect[s] against the spread of 70 percent of HPV types which cause cervical cancer, and 90 percent of those which cause genital warts."

In addition, Cervarix, which is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, was approved last week for the prevention of cervical cancer and pre-cancerous lesions in girls and women between the ages of 10 and 25. Though intended for HPV types 16 and 18, the manufactures claim the vaccine is 70 percent effective against pre-cancerous lesions regardless of HPV type.

Health officials from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and FDA are discussing whether the vaccines can also prevent penile, anal, throat, or mouth cancer, which HPV causes in men.

Officials at the CDC have recommended that girls as young as 9 years old should be vaccinated against certain STDs.

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