HPV virus assay installed in labs across England


Improved detection as NHS rolls out testing for women with low-grade cervical abnormalities

As the NHS cervical cancer screening programme (NHS CSP) rolls out high-risk human papilloma virus testing for the triage of women with borderline or low-grade cervical abnormalities, 30 laboratories across the county have installed the Roche cobas HPV assay.

Local cervical screening programmes have been preparing to present a business case for approval and central funding for the implementation of HPV triage and test of cure. Only programmes with a minimum annual workload of 35,000 can apply and the HPV assay used must be approved by NHS CSP. Currently, only five commercially-available tests have been approved, including the cobas HPV test on the cobas 4800 instrument.

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The test is designed for screening large numbers of samples for the virus. Unlike other assays, it provides a separate result for the highest risk HPV genotypes (HPV 16 and HPV 18) in addition to a pooled result for all HR-HPV genotypes. This separate simultaneous detection of HPV 16 and HPV 18 further enhances risk stratification, allowing women who may need more intensive follow-up and intervention to be identified.