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Acta Cytol. 2012;56(2):109-21. doi: 10.1159/000335065. Epub 2012 Feb 17.

Immunomarkers in gynecologic cytology: the search for the ideal 'biomolecular Papanicolaou test'.

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Department of Pathology, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass. 02115, USA.


Harnessing the knowledge we have gained on the cell cycle disruption caused by human papillomaviruses (HPV) will likely lead to improved screening modalities for cervical cancer and its precursors. An easily applied biomarker that has high specificity and sensitivity would represent an attractive alternative or complement to cytology and HPV testing. To date, a number of promising markers have been investigated. These include p16(INK4A), MIB-1, BD-ProEx C, and L1. Newer possibilities involve a variety of gene products associated with aberrations of chromosome 3q, such as telomerase, p63, and PIK3CA, as well the combination of biomarkers such as p16(INK4A) and MIB-1 in the same assay. Although none of them has yet been incorporated into screening algorithms or found its way into routine practice, their performance characteristics remain a focus of current investigations. This review summarizes what we know and where we hope to go in translating basic pathobiology into clinical practice.

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