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Halifax researchers exploring less invasive test for HPV and cervical cancer

Click to play video: 'Canadian Cancer Society providing grants for researchers' Canadian Cancer Society providing grants for researchers
WATCH: Extensive research has increased the chance of survival, but early detection is key to fighting many cancers. That’s why the Canadian Cancer Society is providing grants to researchers looking at innovative ways to detect the disease early – Apr 2, 2021

Researchers in Halifax are among a select group chosen to receive funding for ‘cutting edge’ work involving the human papillomavirus (HPV).

Nearly half of all Canadians are expected to develop cancer during their lifetime. Extensive research has increased the chance of survival over the years, but early detection remains a key to fighting many cancers.

That’s why last year the Canadian Cancer Society launched a competition asking researchers to propose the most out-of-the-box thinking in the areas of prevention and early detection of cancers.

READ MORE: mRNA technology could soon be used to fight cancer, vaccine scientist says

Out of about 100 proposals, 27 projects were chosen which are now being funded through the new Spark Grant.

“We’re always looking for the cutting edge for what’s going to radically improve our ability to tackle cancer, and so that’s what these grants are all about,” said Andrea Seal, CEO for the Canadian Cancer Society

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Some of the projects include looking to see if breath and sweat can be used to detect lung cancer markers, or if things like bras and contact lenses can be used to detect breast cancer.

READ MORE: Moncton tech firm teams up with UNB to work on new way to detect lung cancer

“These are very high-risk, high-reward grants that just need to get that first foundational testing done,” said Stuart Edmonds, research and innovation lead for CCS.

Researchers in Halifax are among those who have been awarded the grant. The team based at the Nova Scotia Health Authority is working to see if they can detect HPV in urine.

HPV is linked to cervical cancer and is traditionally detected through the more invasive Pap smear test.

Read more: What is a pap test? Here’s what doctors are looking for

“This could really change the speed at which cervical cancer is diagnosed, and it could be diagnosed at a point where treatment would be more effective,” said Edmonds.

In addition to being more cost-effective, because samples for urine tests can be taken at home, they are also more accessible.

“If [our work is] successful then it can be rolled out across the world so this would be a proud moment for Canadians,” said Edmonds.

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The research projects, including the work being done in Halifax, are all in their early stages. Preliminary data is expected within the next year or two which will determine how viable these initiatives are moving forward.

In the meantime, the Canadian Cancer Society is continuing to raise funds for other areas of research and to support cancer patients across the country.

April is National Cancer Awareness month and also the launch of the Canadian Cancer Society’s annual Daffodil campaign.

Click to play video: 'Canadian Cancer Society’s daffodil fundraiser goes virtual' Canadian Cancer Society’s daffodil fundraiser goes virtual
Canadian Cancer Society’s daffodil fundraiser goes virtual – Mar 21, 2021

The campaign normally sees volunteers out selling yellow daffodils and daffodil pins, but this year the campaign will be exclusively online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The daffodil campaign is always about raising money to support people who are going through cancer and also to support cancer research,” said Andrea Seal, CEO for the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS).

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