Development of a Point-of-Care Assay for Detecting High-Risk HPV in Resource Limited Settings

Presenter: Victoria D'Agostino

Research Category: Engineering and Technology
Student Type: Undergraduate
PI: Cesar Castro
Faculty Advisor: Srinivas Sridhar
Award Winner Category: Engineering and Technology

More than 85 percent of women who die of cervical cancer live in low- and middle- income countries. Methods of combating cervical cancer exist but are often inaccessible or impractical in resource-limited areas. Cervical cancer develops from a persistent infection with a high-risk type of human papillomavirus (HR-HPV), meaning early detection and treatment of HR-HPV can prevent cervical cancer. However, detection is expensive and time-consuming. To prevent cervical cancer deaths, we have developed an inexpensive assay that can detect common strains of oncogenic HPV at the point of care. A glass chip is functionalized to immobilize DNA probes for four HR-HPV types in distinct lanes. DNA is asymmetrically amplified directly from patient samples using an isothermal DNA amplification, Recombinase Polymerase Amplification (RPA). Amplified DNA hybridizes to probes conjugated to magnetic microbeads. These bead-DNA conjugates are washed over the chip and attracted magnetically to the functionalized surface. Magnetic washing ensures specific binding. Using the Digital Diffraction Diagnostic (D3) lens-free imaging device developed at MGH, captured beads are counted to diagnose the patient. The total assay takes under two hours and can be integrated into user-friendly platforms. Eliminating the need for a thermocycler makes this system well suited for use in resource-limited settings. The vision of this project is to make detection and treatment of high-risk HPV accessible across the world to prevent cervical cancer mortality.