Mucosal infection by the human papillomavirus (HPV) is responsible for a growing number of malignancies, predominantly represented by cervical cancer and oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma. Because of the prevalence of the virus, persistence of infection, and long latency period, novel and low-cost methods are needed for effective population level screening and monitoring. We review established methods for screening of cervical and oral cancer as well as commercially-available techniques for detection of HPV DNA. We then describe the ongoing development of microfluidic nucleic acid-based biosensors to evaluate circulating host microRNAs that are produced in response to an oncogenic HPV infection. The goal is to develop an ideal screening platform that is low-cost, portable, and easy to use, with appropriate signal stability, sensitivity and specificity. Advances in technologies for sample lysis, pre-treatment and concentration, and multiplexed nucleic acid detection are provided. Continued development of these devices provides opportunities for cancer screening in low resource settings, for point-of-care diagnostics and self-screening, and for monitoring response to vaccination or surgical treatment.
Keywords: E6/E7 genotypes; HPV DNA; cervical and oropharyngeal cancers; diagnostics; human papillomavirus; integrated platform; microRNA.