Condom Detects STIs by Changing Color

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July 28th, 2015

Those who are worried about contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) may soon have a new, discreet option at their disposal. But it wasn’t developed by scientists. Instead, this STI-detecting condom was the brainchild of three U.K. teens. Called the S.T. Eye, this condom changes color when it comes into contact with detectable, sexually transmitted diseases. Two 14 year-olds Daanyaal Ali and Chirag Shah, along with 13 year-old Muaz Nawaz created the design. Don’t expect to see an S.T. Eye in your local pharmacy in the coming weeks. The condom is still in the development stages. But the science is there and a condom company has contacted the trio about their idea. It works by embedding antibodies that react to common STIs into the condom itself. When the antibodies come into contact with certain antigens–viruses or bacteria, they react changing the condom’s color.

condom

The boys say their idea originated with an HIV test called Elisa, which also utilizes antibodies to create a color change. The transformation in hue can take place on both sides of the condom. What color it becomes indicates the type of STI detected. There is yellow for herpes, blue for syphilis, green for chlamydia and purple for genital warts.  Instead of the embarrassment of going to a clinic or the fear of not knowing, a person can know right away in the privacy of their own bedroom. Muaz said he and his team got the idea when they came across a Reddit post about things that should be invented. A color changing condom was one item on the list. But changing color to indicate the presence of an STI was the students’ own twist. At first, they were worried that no one would take them seriously. But with the guidance of a science teacher, they were able to form the scientific basis which could easily produce a prototype. The students entered their design into a contest, and won. They are now the recipients of a TeenTech award, in addition to making headlines worldwide. For winning the contest, their school will be awarded £1,000  and the team will be brought to Buckingham Palace to meet the Duke of York this coming October.

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