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First DNA Test Approved for Two Types of Human Papillomavirus

March 16, 2009 -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration yesterday approved the first DNA test that identifies the two types of human papillomavirus (HPV) that cause the majority of cervical cancers among women in the United States.

The test, called Cervista HPV 16/18, detects the DNA sequences for HPV type 16 and HPV type 18 in cervical cells. Differentiating these HPV types gives health care professionals more information on a patient’s risk of subsequently developing cervical cancer.

A positive Cervista 16/18 test result indicates whether HPV type 16, 18 or both types are present in the cervical sample.

The FDA also approved yesterday the Cervista HPV HR test, which is the second DNA test that detects essentially all of the high-risk HPV types in cervical cell samples. The Cervista HPV HR test uses a method similar to the Cervista HPV 16/18 test to detect the DNA sequences of these HPV types.

In women age 30 and older or women with borderline cytology, the Cervista HPV 16/18 test can be used together with cytology and the Cervista HPV HR test to assess risk of cervical disease.

“Results from these two tests, when considered with a physician’s assessment of the patient’s history, other risk factors, and professional guidelines, can help physicians better determine risk and could lead to better patient management,” said Daniel G. Schultz, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 6 million Americans become infected with genital HPV each year and that more than half of all sexually active women and men become infected at some time in their lives.

For most women, the body's own defense system clears the virus and infected women do not develop related health problems. However, some HPV types can cause cell abnormalities on the lining of the cervix that later can become malignant. While there are many different types of HPV, types 16 and 18 cause about 70 percent of all cervical cancers.

Cervista HPV 16/18 and Cervista HPV HR are manufactured by Madison, Wis.-based Third Wave Technologies.

Source: Food and Drug Administration

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