Clinical trials for new HPV test may start in fall

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- New numbers this week show that vaccines may be helping reduce the numbers of HPV cases in young girls. Notre Dame researchers and the Harper Cancer Research Institute have come up with a new HPV test that is quicker and cheaper.

Researchers say you may be able to test for HPV and oral cancer at your dentist’s office with a simple swish of mouthwash by the end of this year.

A typical HPV test costs around $48, but this one would cost less than $5.

There are more than forty strains of the sexually transmitted infection called HPV.
"About 6 million people are infected at any one time in the US,” said Sharon Stack, Director of the Harper Cancer Research Institute.
At its most severe stages, HPV can lead to cervical cancer.

But now studies are showing HPV is also associated with oral cancer.
"There's been a decrease in oral cancer related to tobacco and alcohol due to public health efforts, but at the same time, in the last fifteen or so years there's been about over a 200 percent increase in HPV associated oral cancers,” said Stack.
Doctors say the oral cancers are cropping up among a different demographic.

"Oral cancer has typically been associated with tobacco and alcohol consumption in men over 60. And this is a different demographic of younger men and women in their 20s to 40s,” said Stack.
Right now HPV tests only detect whether the virus is present, not whether the cells have turned into cancer.
"It doesn't detect whether that HPV is causing your normal cells to turn into cancer. And that's what we're hoping that ours will do,” said Stack.
Stack says they hope to start testing their new method with clinical trials this fall.

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