Is this cell unwell? Evaluating the features of Human Papilloma Virus-infected squamous cells of the uterine cervix

This study aims to have significant impact in the diagnosis of cervical dysplasia and cancer.

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the main cause of cervical dysplasia and cancer. When a squamous epithelial cell of the cervix is infected with HPV, the cell demonstrates certain characteristic features, collectively called ‘koilocytosis’.

Determining the presence of koilocytosis on a cervical biopsy is important in establishing the presence of HPV infection and determining the grade of the abnormality. The presence of HPV infection automatically assigns it to the ‘low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion’ category, which requires additional close follow-up, even in the absence of a significant epithelial dysplasia.

Although the cellular features of HPV infection are well-described and established in literature, there are a number of cells with similar features as koilocytosis, called mimics. Currently, apart from the trained eye of experienced pathologists, there are no definite characteristic criteria to distinguish true koilocytes from their mimics.

This study aims at exploring the potential of developing such criteria, based on analysis of retrospectively collected data, including molecular HPV studies, liquid-based cytology and tissue biopsy. The topic of cervical pre-cancerous and cancerous conditions is of paramount importance.

This is a study that aims at creating a significant impact in the diagnosis of these conditions. The project would suit someone with strong interest in cancer diagnosis and pathology.

Students with good understanding of basic statistics and keen on exploring the beauty of tissue under the microscope are encouraged to apply.

Contact and more information

Associate Professor Kais Kasem
kais.kasem@unimelb.edu.au