A Mexican Associate Professor of Robotics, Ernesto Rodríguez Leal, has developed a new device that rapidly and painlessly diagnoses Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) like chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and trichomoniasis.
The device, called Hoope, is a ring that consists of four microfluidic channels for each STD test and a disposable cartridge and a needle. When the ring is placed on the thumb, a small needle inside the ring draws a small sample of blood and distributes it into the four different channels. The device uses an electrical pulse to numb the area where the needle will be inserted so there’s no pain.
Each channel contains antigens that have been created to detect antibodies for each STD. If there are antibodies in the blood for a particular disease, it produces an electrochemical reaction.
The test results are sent wirelessly to a smartphone, where the Hoope app displays the results in less than a minute. According to the founders, the results are completely confidential and those who are tested positive for an STD, the app provides medical guidance through a map with the location of a nearby specialist so they can get treatment. The Hoope app also provides users with valuable information regarding sexual health and follow up recommendations to their test results.
Leal met his team, Damel Mektepbayeva and Irina Rymshina, at the Singular University Labs, a programme in the US that provides start-ups with tools needed to conceptualise social impact projects and transform the ideas from the lab to the end product. The programme consists of a three-month stay at NASA, which brings together 80 people from around the world.
The Hoope device will be manufactured in China and will be available in January 2016 through an Indiegogo campaign. It will first be marketed in Mexico, then the rest of Latin America, and later Europe and the US. Following the success of the STD testing device, the start-up hopes to develop similar cartridges to detect allergies, cancer and diabetes.