You could say this dainty device lets you know what you’re getting yourself into on a one-night stand…
The Hoope ring can reportedly diagnose STDs such as syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichinosis in less than a minute. The thumb-fitted gizmo uses an electric pulse generator to numb the wearer’s skin, before a retractable single-use needle draws a blood sample.
The ring’s so-called ‘lab-on-a-chip’ wirelessly transmits the data to an smartphone app which tells to the users what disease has been detected. Irina Rymshina, the Peru — based co-founder of Hoope, explains to Metro how the gadget operates.
Q: What led you to develop the Hoope ring?
— I was looking for a big problem to solve and realized that STDs are a big global issue. According to the World Health Organization, every year 500 million people across the globe become infected with one of the four most common sexually transmitted diseases: chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea and trichinosis. When not treated, these STDs lead to infertility, cancer, and an increased risk of contracting HIV. Also, current STD testing causes embarrassment and requires uncomfortable procedures. Testing is time-consuming and people need to wait a long time to get their results. And most crucially, testing is expensive and many people simply cannot afford it. In many areas of lower and middle income countries testing is geographically inaccessible which makes prevention and treatment of curable diseases difficult.
Q: How does the ring detect presence of diseases?
— For the detection of antibodies associated with each of the targeted diseases, we use a low-cost, paper-based microfluidic chip that uses capillary action and doesn’t require any source of power. We convert bio responses into electronic signals through electrochemical reaction that allows parallel and highly sensitive assays. We detect specific binding of antibodies with antigens immobilized on the surface of the chip. The signal is amplified and sent to the user’s digital device using Bluetooth. The test results are visualized in the Hoope App for mobile devices (iOS, Android, and Windows).
Q: How effective is this device in detecting these diseases?
— Hoope integrates the best features of existing STD testing methods. Hoope is as reliable as laboratory testing (97% accuracy which is the Gold Standard of laboratory STD testing); it’s cheaper than home test kits (USD50 vs USD120) and gives continuous access to educational information about STDs and actionable data (all 4 STDs are curable).
Q: Would you think it’s apt and practical to bring this along with you on a Tinder app, for example?
— There is evidence that dating apps increase spread of STDs. Hoope could provide a good way to solve this problem. First of all, people could test themselves before having sexual intercourse. And they don’t need to do it in front of each other, they can share their test results using the Hoope app. Maybe one day Hoope can become a stamp of being STD-clean on Tinder and other dating sites, something like being “Hot and Clean”.
Q: When will your prototype device be ready for the market?
— The estimated price of the Hoope Ring Kit is $50, which comes with one disposable cartridge which tests for four STDs. The price for each replacement cartridge is $15. Next year, we expect to have a fully functioning product and begin the clinical trial and FDA approval process as a medical device.