Project Lead(s): Andre Isaac
In Kenya, Edmonton-based innovators will introduce a simple new swab to empower women to self-screen for the Human papillomavirus (HPV), a precursor to cervical and other cancers. The novel approach overcomes both cost and social barriers to diagnosis in East Africa, which has the world’s highest incidence and mortality rate of cervical cancer.
Less than 4 percent of at-risk women in Kenya undergo screening due to a suite of barriers including access to clinics and / or personnel to interpret the samples, as well as cultural concerns with Pap smear cervical exams.
The innovation creates the possibility of self-screening using a cervicovaginal swab and a process (called droplet digital polymerase chain reaction) to detect HPV. Early tests suggest an unprecedented 92 percent sensitivity and specificity for oncogenic HPV.
Easy to perform at potentially less cost than a Pap smear, the sample can be taken at home and the swab sent in a preservative solution for lab interpretation. After a pilot study in Canada to further validate the technology, an implementation study in Nairobi will involve a laboratory created in partnership with AMREF Kenya.