Up Start spotlight

Eliminating barriers to HPV and cervical cancer testing using nanotechnology.

CT Murphy at the winter'24 Cornerstone presentations

Cervical cancer caused by human papilloma virus (HPV) is the fourth most common cancer in women globally, and yet some don’t have the opportunity to get screened. The most common way doctors test cell abnormality in the cervix is with a Pap smear, which women may find intimidating or inaccessible.

“No one is fixing this problem, and I’m going to do something about that,” says CT Murphy (BASc ’23), founder of CELLECT, who believes this technology could eliminate the need for Pap smears altogether by adding nanomaterials to menstrual products to diagnose HPV and cervical cancer using menstrual blood.

Through their fourth-year nanotechnology engineering design project turned master’s thesis, Murphy and her fourth-year design group created a method to segregate components of menstrual blood, remove contaminants, and collect relevant biomarkers to diagnose HPV and cervical cancer.

Validating the business and executing a plan is the path through which Murphy’s desire for equal access to cancer screening can become a reality.

“I’m a scientist and an engineer but I want to solve these real-world issues,” says Murphy. “Up Start will push me towards the path I need to succeed with this plan.”

CELLECT has received $33,000 in grant funding and, in just a few months, has determined a way of reducing the business risk to get their product to market and work on their intellectual property process.

Adding the nanomaterial into menstrual products is just the start. “I’d like to engineer a new type of menstrual reciprocal, one that is optimal to collect samples for cancer testing,” Murphy says.