A NEW device which could destroy potentially dangerous cells before they turn into cervical cancer is being trialled in Glasgow.

The machine uses low dose microwave energy to stimulate an immune response to fight precancerous cells in the cervix.

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The system is being tested by scientists at Glasgow University MRC-Centre for Virus Research as an innovative method of treating the human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus which causes cervical cancer as well as genital warts and verrucas.

The compact, portable device was created by Scottish company, Emblation, and has already been successfully used to treat more than 10,000 cases of verrucas across the UK in 2017.

The technology is not yet at the stage of being tested on patients to find out if it is effective in treating precancerous cells in the cervix, but the research team in Glasgow are carrying out laboratory tests on cells first. They will also study the effect of microwaves on HPV-infected, living tissue.

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When routine cervical screening identifies potential abnormalities women are then referred for a colposcopy, a procedure to examine the cervix more closely.

In Scotland alone, in 27 colposcopy clinics in 2016, 13,536 new patients were seen, most of whom required treatment.

Current treatment for cervical precancerous cells involves laser surgical removal of the diseased tissue. This is painful and can cause sustained bleeding and there is also a risk that diseased tissue can be missed.

In contrast, microwaving produces mild heat - less than 50°C - and is non-invasive.

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Professor Sheila Graham, an expert in molecular virology at Glasgow University, said: “We plan to assess if the device can disrupt HPV and whether there is an effect on HPV-infected pre-cancerous and cancerous tissues. "The project will validate the microwave device’s clinical potential but will also shed new light on how HPV-associated diseases arise.”

Dr Matt Kidd, Director of Research & Development at Emblation, said: “This project is an exciting opportunity to further our knowledge and understanding of microwave interactions with diseased tissue.

"Our device has the potential to address the challenges associated with the treatment of precancerous conditions of the cervix."