Thumb ring diagnoses sexually-transmitted diseases

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Once perfected, the Hoope ring should be able to consistently detect four of the most common STDs(Credit: Investigacion y Desarrollo)

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Although most people with multiple sexual partners know that being checked for STDs is the responsible thing to do, many don’t do so because of the stigma associated with going to the clinic. That’s why a Silicon Valley-based startup has developed the Hoope ring. It’s worn on the thumb, and can reportedly diagnose diseases such as syphilis, gonorrhoea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis in less than a minute.

Users start by using Hoope’s electric pulse generator to numb their skin. They then press a button on the ring, which causes its single-use retractable needle to come out. That needle is then used to draw a blood sample, which is carried by capillary action to the ring’s lab-on-a-chip.

There, the blood flows through four microfluidic channels, in which it’s exposed to different antigens that have been synthesized to catch antibodies associated with each of the targeted diseases. If any of those antibodies are present and thus captured, an electrochemical reaction occurs which is detected by the onboard electronics.

The Hoope then wirelessly transmits the data to an app on the user’s smartphone, which tells them what disease has been detected, and where in their community they can go for treatment.

A prototype has already been produced at Colorado State University, where it was shown to be very reliable at the detection of syphilis. The international team is currently working at perfecting the detection of the other three STDs, and are also looking towards adapting it for the detection of allergies, cancer, diabetes and pregnancy.

Plans call for commercial production of Hoope to be funded through an Indiegogo campaign next January, with a subsequent roll-out taking place first in Mexico and Latin America, followed by Europe and the US. It should be priced at US$50, which will include a ring and three needle/lab-on-a-chip cartridges.

Source: Investigacion y Desarrollo (Spanish)

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