UK teens invent STD detecting colour-changing condom
26 June 2015
Three UK teens have invented a condom that changes colour if the wearer has a sexually transmitted disease.
The rubber, called S.T.EYE, detects pathogens that cause STDs and changes colour turning green for chlamydia, purple for genital warts, blue for syphilis and yellow for herpes.
The brainchild of Daanyaal Ali, 14, Muaz Nawaz, 13, and Chirag Shah, 14, won the UK's top health care prize last week at the UK's big TeenTech Awards.
The award is aimed at encouraging students to pursue careers in science, engineering and technology.
"We wanted to make something that made detecting harmful STIs safer than ever before, so that people can take immediate action in the privacy of their own homes without the often-scary procedures at the doctors'," Ali said in a statement.
"We've made sure we're able to give peace of mind to users and let people act even more responsibly than ever before," he added.
The three teens from Isaac Newton Academy in London won around $1,500, which would be awarded later this year by Prince Andrew at Buckingham Palace.
According to Daanyaal who spoke to BBC News, the inspiration came from a silly Reddit post that called for the creation of a colour-changing condom, as also the massive condom market.
"We saw it was huge because in England there were over 450,000 diagnoses of STIs in 2013 alone," he said.
Meanwhile, some have raised doubts over the feasibility of the invention.
According to a report in forbes.com, the idea was based on a common testing method that had been around for decades, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, or ELISA, the BBC said.
An ELISA uses enzymes that changed colour when both the antibody that was being detected and a third chemical were added.
According to Dr Maureen Baldwin, an an assistant professor of OB/GYN at Oregon Health & Science University, the first problem was that the tests required a medium that could hold the antibodies and chemical, just as a pregnancy test used paper as a medium for storing the chemicals that detect hCG hormone.
''I think our technology is far from that at this point, particularly with being able to do any immuno-assays on plastics that doesn't impede the actual function of a condom,'' Baldwin said.
''I currently don't know of any model like this except on paper, so there would have to be some kind of new technology in plastics, but that would add some bulk to the plastic.''