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Iowa State researchers develop technology for early detection of viruses
Date:10/30/2007

AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University researchers have developed a technology that detects a single molecule of the virus associated with cervical cancer in women.

Thats a significant improvement over the current test for the human papillomavirus, said Edward Yeung, an Iowa State Distinguished Professor and the Robert Allen Wright Chair in Chemistry who led the research team that developed the new test. The current test, the Nobel Prize-winning polymerase chain reaction technique, requires 10 to 50 virus molecules for detection.

We are always interested in detecting smaller and smaller amounts of material at lower and lower concentrations, Yeung said. Detecting lower levels means earlier diagnosis.

The discovery by Yeung, whos also a senior chemist and deputy program director for the U.S. Department of Energys Ames Laboratory at Iowa State; Jiangwei Li, an Iowa State doctoral student; and Ji-Young Lee, a former Iowa State doctoral student; will be published in the Nov. 1 issue of the journal Analytical Chemistry.

Their work was funded by a five-year, $950,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health with additional support from The Robert Allen Wright Endowment for Excellence at Iowa State.

The project advanced just as human papillomavirus made national headlines. In June of 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a vaccine developed to prevent cervical cancer, precancerous lesions and genital warts caused by four types of the virus. The vaccine has been approved for females ages 9 to 26.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the human papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. The agency estimates about 6.2 million Americans are infected every year and over half of all sexually active Americans are infected at some time in their lives.

Yeung said single molecule detection of the virus could help women and families decide to get
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Contact: Edward Yeung
yeung@ameslab.gov
515-294-8062
Iowa State University  
Source:Eurekalert

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Iowa State researchers develop technology for early detection of viruses
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