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The Hoope looks like an oversized ring but it’s actually extremely tiny for what it can do: draw blood and do on-the-spot tests for STDs. The device is designed to detect syphilis, gonorrhoea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis, the most common in the category, which affect over 500 million people worldwide.
Details on how it works are few and far in between but doing such complicated tests within such a small device could be more fact than fiction. The website reveals the ring will have a built-in retractable needle. Using electricity, it will block pain receptors so it can draw blood painlessly. Using capillary action, blood will naturally flow through tiny tubes without the need for a ridiculously tiny (and expensive) pump.
To test, reagents will be mixed with the blood sample. The Hoope website mentions “antibody detection” as the method for testing. In these type of tests, reagents bond to specific proteins formed by the body under attack from an infection. The final bond will have a specific electrochemical behavior which can be detected by the device and assessed as a positive or negative result.
Likely, the testing segment will be modular and single-use. The drawn blood will be deactivated using chemical compounds so there is no infectious waste after. At the end of the entire Hoope process is a smartphone app that connects to the ring, display the results, explains the condition, and recommends nearby doctors and facilities for treatment.
Although shrinking the chemistry can be easy, the biggest challenge for the device could be the testing method. Blood testing is often only used when testing for HIV infection and herpes. Other STDs are tested by confirming virus or bacterial presence in swabs or sample tissue from the patient.
Because it tests for antibodies, which is a bodily response, there is timeframe for false negatives. However, due to Hoope’s wearable design and likely affordability, tests can be easily done on-the-go and in a minute once a day, overall minimizing the possibility of an undetected infection.
The startup team is headed by Kazakhstani Damel Mektepbayeva, a biotechnologist who has helped developed stem cell-based treatments for ischemic diseases. The Hoope idea originated from a NASA camp where Damel’s team bested 80 other scientists in developing an impactful product. Mexican mechanical engineer Ernesto Leal and Russian/Peruvian startup entrepreneur Irina Rymshina complete the trio.