April 2022, Improved testing method for cervical cancer detection: automated and patient-friendly
GC biotech and Self-screen, both located in the Netherlands, recently joined forces to develop a new and automated method for the detection of precursor stadia of cervical cancer, based on DNA methylation. Nowadays, screening laboratories perform HPV tests in order to detect women with a high risk on cervical cancer. False positive results are not rare with this method, causing unnecessary anxiety and unpleasant follow-up procedures for the concerning women.
Self-screen, a spin-off from VUmc Amsterdam, is an expert in the field of assay development for cervical cancer. The company developed an accurate method to distinguish specifically those HPV infections that are likely to develop into (pre)cancer by looking at DNA methylation. This method is currently manual and requires well trained personnel. Here comes GC biotech’s expertise to the rescue: yearlong experience with laboratory automation and equipment allows them to robotize the methylation procedure and use it on a large scale.
In a two-year project, partly funded by the MIT of the province Zuid-Holland, both parties work together to develop the automated ‘Methydect’ assay. In this collaboration, the multiple steps in Self-screen’s method will be combined into one step and coupled with GC biotech’s laboratory robots, hardware and software. After processing the samples, the system sends the results automatically to the laboratory information system.
Upon finalization of the two-year project, the companies aim to put the Methydect solution on the market for screening and diagnostic laboratories through Europe, where the system can improve effectiveness for laboratories, health care programs, hospitals, and all women involved. At the moment, two out of three women referred to a gynecologist get unnecessary treatment, because the current cyto-logical based method is not accurate enough. In the future, the Methydect will save money and decrease work load for gynecologists and pathologists, and above all prevent impactful treatment for woman that do not need it.