An international entrepreneurial trio has developed a hand-worn ring that detects syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis--wirelessly transmitting the results to a smartphone or tablet in under one minute. Known as Hoope, the device has a retractable needle and an anesthetic system based on electrical pulses; it is slated to debut on crowdfunding site Indiegogo in January.
The device is expected to be marketed first in Mexico and the rest of Latin America, with subsequent availability in the United States and Europe. It's supposed to have a price tag of $50 for a ring with three cartridges, each of which allows for one-time diagnostic use.
More than 500 million people worldwide annually contract at least one of these four sexually transmitted diseases for which the Hoope tests. Most patients don't present with early symptoms and are young--between 15 and 23 years old.
One of the device creators, Ernesto Rodríguez Leal, who has a PhD in mechanical engineering, described in a statement how Hoope works for STD detection. "We put antigens (substance that triggers the production of antibodies) specifically synthesized to catch antibodies for each of the diseases, their interaction functions as a lock and key mechanism. If antibodies for any of the conditions exists, the antigens trap them and produce an electrochemical reaction," he said.
|Ernesto Rodríguez Leal, Irina Rymshina and Damel Mektepbayeva|
The device was developed by Rodríguez Leal along with Kazakh biotechnologist Damel Mektepbayeva and Russian finance expert Irina Rymshina who met when he participated in a three-month program for entrepreneurs at Singularity University.
The first Hoope prototype was designed at Colorado State University and tested in syphilis detection; the final development process for the other three STDs is currently ongoing. The device has already won several international competitions--including ones backed by Google ($GOOG) and Microsoft ($MSFT). The device will be manufactured in China.
The researchers are also working to adapt the Hoope for allergies, cancer, diabetes and pregnancy applications.
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