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Groundbreaking Discovery of the Cellular Origin of Cervical Cancer

A team of scientists from A*STAR's Institute of Medical Biology (IMB) and Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) together with clinicians from Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) have identified a unique set of cells in the cervix that are the cause of human papillomaviruses (HPV) related cervical cancers. Significantly, the team also showed that these cells do not regenerate when excised. These findings have immense clinical implications in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of cervical cancer.

Dr Wa Xian, Principal Investigator at IMB, said, "Our study also revealed that this exotic population of cells does not reappear after ablation[2] by cone biopsy. This finding helps to explain the low rate of new HPV infections in the cervix after excisional therapy and also raises the distinct possibility that preemptive removal of these cells in young women could reduce their risk of cervical cancer. This could be an alternative to current vaccines which only protect against HPV 16 and 18."

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