Hoope Diagnostic Ring Makes Early STD Detection Easy for Physicians

Device may eventually detect cancer and diabetes.

Device may eventually detect cancer and diabetes.

A new medical device used to detect the presence of sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis has been developed by Mexican researcher Ernest Rodriguez Leal. The device, called Hoope, is a ring that is placed around the thumb and contains a retractable needle for single use to diagnose the patient.

“Every year more than 500 million people around the world contract one of these four STDs, 50% of them have between 15 and 23 years of age. The problem is that 75% of them do not present early symptoms, therefore the need for an early detection strategy,” said the mechanical engineer.

The project was developed in a Mexican startup at Silicon Valley. Rodriguez Leal went to Silicon Valley through the Singularity University program consisting of a 3-month stay at NASA, which brings together 80 people from around the world.

“In this program I learned the tools needed to conceptualize social impact projects and transform the idea from the lab to an end product,” Rodriguez Leal said.

The ring works by being placed around the patient’s thumb. A button is then pressed that triggers a numbing electrical pulse, followed by a diagnostic needle puncture in the thumb.

The blood drawn is then sent to a lab-on-a-chip, a recent concept based on immobilizing reagents to look for changes and make measurements. After this, the data is transferred to a smartphone or tablet, where an application gives results in less than a minute.

“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,” Rodriguez Leal said.

The results of the test are 100% confidential between doctor and patient. If the test yields a positive result, the patient is referred to a specialist using a map that gives the location of the nearest treating physician.

The device is set to be manufactured in China with a tentative release date of January 2016. It will first be marketed in Mexico and the rest of Latin America, followed by Europe and the United States. It will be priced at $50 containing a ring and three cartridges for use. An application specializing in sexual health will be released prior to the release of the ring.

“The first prototype was designed at the Colorado State University located in Fort Collins, it showed excellent results in the detection of syphilis, and we are working to perfect it for the other three diseases,” Rodriguez Leal said.

The development of this device has received much recognition after winning several international competitions including Startup Mexico, Peru and Chile, the Google-DCamp in the Startup Nations Competition in Korea, best Health Startup at the World Tech Cup Challenge by Microsoft and was a finalist in the Hello Tomorrow Challenge, with which they have managed to finance the project.

The team is currently working on advertisement and improvements in various countries. One researcher is in Kazakhstan working on adapting Hoope for detecting allergies, cancer, diabetes, and pregnancy. Another is in Peru and is in charge of the administrative area, advertising and developing the app. Rodriguez is in Mexico perfecting the hardware.

Early detection medical devices such as Hoope are of great importance to physicians worldwide as early detection goes a long way in recovery for most infectious diseases. The early treatment of diseases leads to their eventual eradication, leaving many more healthy and able to pursue day to day activities.