A paper published in PLOS One on Thursday reveals that the pap tests, known as “paper porosity” tests, can be used to test for the human papillomavirus (HPV) virus.
The study, led by a team of researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, and published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS Pathogens, involved 1,977 people who had previously tested positive for HPV and received either a placebo or a vaccination containing the HPV vaccine.
The team used a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method to identify the HPV DNA from their cells, which is typically used to diagnose the disease in those who have already had the HPV-16 vaccine.
“Our study showed that this method can detect the presence of HPV virus in human cells,” study author Joseph P. Niell, an assistant professor of epidemiology at UC LA and a member of the USC team, said in a statement.
“We hope this paper will help patients get the HPV vaccines they need and help clinicians understand the role of the HPV test in preventing cervical cancer.”
For the study, the team looked at the DNA from 7,000 HPV-positive cells taken from a large group of patients.
The cells were also tested for HPV-2 and HPV-19, and for other viruses, such as herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1).
The team found that the PCR test showed HPV DNA in the cells.
“The PCR test was able to identify HPV-9 in HPV-infected cells and HPV DNA and DNA from other HPV types in HPV positive cells,” Dr. Niel said.
“These results indicate that HPV DNA can be isolated from human cervical cells, and that this test is an accurate marker of the presence or absence of HPV infection.”
The paper is the first to report the existence of a PCR test that could detect HPV-related DNA.
In the past, scientists have reported that a PCR method could detect the virus in a variety of other types of cells, such a cells taken out of a person’s skin, but the method only detects HPV DNA.
The results of the study show that the use of the PCR method to test HPV-specific DNA can provide a better signal of whether a person has HPV-13, which can be transmitted from person to person, the researchers said.
The new study also shows that a more accurate test is needed to identify people who have a high number of HPV-associated DNA mutations.
This type of PCR test, known colloquially as “covalent DNA,” has been used before to diagnose many cancers, but it was not used in cervical cancer research.
The findings suggest that more accurate PCR testing is needed in cervical cancers, said Dr. Rima J. Alkhatib, director of the UCLA Center for Human Genetics and Genetics.
“Cervical cancer has been a priority for HPV vaccines, but there are limitations with PCR-based screening,” she said.
Dr. Alkhhatib said the results from this study may help cervical cancer patients determine if their cells have a significant amount of HPV DNA, since the type of DNA is not directly detectable by the PCR testing.
“If you can identify these mutations that have already occurred, you may be able to use this to detect the risk for HPV transmission, which could help patients decide whether to have their first HPV vaccine,” she added.
In addition to Dr. P.N. Nies, the study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Cancer Institute, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and the National Vaccine Program.
The U.K. government also provided funding for the study.