CerviCare: A Point of Care Screening Device for Cervical Precancer


Cervical cancer remains a significant health burden, especially in regions with limited access to diagnostic facilities. To combat this, the UMaryland iGEM Team is developing an inexpensive point-of-care cervical precancer screening tool. Utilizing red fluorescent protein (RFP), this tool will provide a reliable color-based output upon detecting specific miRNAs (miR-21, miR-199a, and miR-155-5p) associated with cervical precancer. Our detection approach combines toehold switch and novel synthetic RNA technologies. Toehold switches serve as recognition elements, enabling target miRNA detection with high sensitivity and specificity. Our synthetic RNA ribozyme device will utilize both a novel miRNA sensor and self-cleaving properties to achieve similar sensitivity and specificity. Utilizing two cell-free devices in tandem will allow us to increase the accuracy of our screening device, which will be a paper assay system. Finally, through careful design and optimization, we aim to produce this device at low-cost and simplify it to require minimal training, enabling its use in resource-limited areas.