U.K. Developing STD-diagnosing Mobile Phone Kits

Ariana Rodriguez
BRITAIN — Seven funders, including the U.K.’s Medical Research Council, have invested $5 million into developing small devices, similar to pregnancy testing kits, which will quickly and privately diagnose an STD.

According to reports, users will be able to urinate or apply saliva on a computer chip, which will deliver the results via a mobile phone and computer.

The forum that’s developing the technology is called the U.K. Clinical Research Collaboration, and its goal is to cut the U.K.'s rising rate of herpes, chlamydia and gonorrhoea among young people.

The device is meant to target tech-savvy young people, and priced at about $1 each, the developers said they expect them to be as accessible as condoms,with availability in vending machines in nightclubs, pharmacies and in supermarkets.

The device draws on nanotechnology and microfluidics, the creation of miniaturized laboratories, The Guardian reports.

Dr Tariq Sadiq, a senior lecturer and consultant physician in sexual health and HIV at St George's, University of London, who is leading the project, told The Guardian that the new self-testing technology could lead to quicker diagnosis, fewers STIs and grants patients greater control of their sexual health.

"Your mobile phone can be your mobile doctor,” he said. “It diagnoses whether you've got one of a range of STIs, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea and tells you where to go next to get treatment.”

Sadiq also is head of the Electronic Self-testing Instruments for Sexually Transmitted Infections consortium, which includes experts in microbiology, public health, telecommunications and micro-engineering from medical research institutions. The U.K.’s National Health Service organization and its technology adoption centre, the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence, as well as mobile phone operators, including 02, are also involved.