To Develop Indigenous Low-Cost Cervical Cancer Test AIIMS Delhi Starts Multi-Centre Study

New Delhi: To develop and validate low-cost, point-of-care indigenous HPV tests for the detection of cervical cancer, AIIMS Delhi launched a multi-centre study on Friday.

AIIMS Delhi took up this project with the support of DBT-BIRAC Grand Challenges India in collaboration with WHO’s International Agency for Research in Cancer (IARC).

This landmark project will allow validation of Make in India HPV tests for cervical cancer screening by international quality standards and will benefit millions of women in India and other LMICs to get rid of the scourge of cervical cancer.

Validation studies for three indigenous human papillomavirus (HPV) tests will be conducted at AIIMS, Delhi, National Institute of Cancer Prevention Research in Noida and National Institute for Research in Reproductive and Child Health in Mumbai, informed Dr Neerja Bhatla, the chief coordinator of the programme.

The present HPV tests are expensive and need elaborate laboratory setups.

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women. In India, it is the second most common cancer among women after breast cancer. Every two minutes, a woman dies of cervical cancer around the world.

According to Global Cancer Observatory (GLOBOCAN) data, an estimated 6,63,301 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer worldwide in 2022 and about 3,48,874 women died from the disease.

Low-middle income countries (LMIC) like India contribute nearly 80 per cent of cervical cancer cases.

The WHO launched ‘Call For Elimination of Cervical Cancer’ with a vision of a cervical cancer-free world in which India is also one of the signatories. It is envisioned to screen 70 per cent of women and vaccinating 90 per cent of girls against cervical cancer by 2030.

Cervical cancer is preventable and can be treated if detected in precancerous or early stages. There is an urgent need to develop and validate low-cost, point-of-care indigenous HPV tests which can detect the major cancer-causing HPV genotypes in the Indian population and do not require too much technical expertise or elaborate infrastructure. So, the AIIMS Delhi has taken up this new programme.

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