College of Engineering Unit:
Over 4,000 people die from cervical cancer each year. Currently the only reliable cervical-cancer screening method available to people with cervixes (PWC) is the Pap smear procedure. The CDC recommends adult PWC have this procedure every 3 years in order to catch cervical cancer as soon as possible. Pap smears occur in a doctor's office, and are performed with a speculum to open the vaginal canal and allow doctors to see the cervix. While it is almost impossible to find a more reliable screening method, our goal was to develop an alternative method that was less invasive and could be conducted at home to extend the recommended time between Pap smear procedures.
Our solution, Jupiter, integrates lateral flow diagnostics (similar to those found in a pregnancy test) with a menstrual pad to screen for elevated hormone levels in menses. Research indicates that elevated levels of estradiol, a common female hormone, during menstruation can be a potential symptom of and a risk factor for cervical cancer. Jupiter will detect these elevated levels by fixing anti-estradiol enzymes to nitrocellulose paper. These enzymes will already have a colored, estradiol analogue bonded to them such that when estradiol reaches the enzymes, the colored analogue will be replaced. A positive test (high estradiol levels) will result in the absence of a test line and is known as a competitive assay which works better for small particles compared to the sandwich assays used in pregnancy tests.
Jupiter will also feature a dissolvable bridge to control the volume of blood that will enter the actual test strip. Menstrual flows differ person to person and day to day, which is why having the user wear the test pad for a certain amount of time would not control the amount of blood that enters the pad. The dissolvable bridge containing allulose will degrade as blood travels through it. Once enough fluid has passed through the bridge, the bridge will have degraded until no further fluid can reach the test strip. Ultimately, Jupiter seeks to utilize a competitive lateral flow test to visually notify the user of elevated estradiol levels to reduce the recommended frequency of Pap smear procedures.
Project Communication Piece(s):
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