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Can a Robot Detect Reproductive Health Problems?

Robots can be programmed to detect reproductive health issues

May 24, 2019
Bridget Houlihan

New technology has been developed by the researchers at the Imperial College of London and the University of Hong Kong that may be able to measure reproductive hormone levels more quickly and cheaply than ever before. This is exciting news for women who may be suffering from infertility or early menopause, and offers a better way to get a grasp on these problems early on.

Researchers have developed a robot sensor that can gain useful insight into the presence of these issues in a much easier manner than the current method. This gives them a glimpse into what can be causing the problems-- and what kind of treatment is required.

In this article we’ll discuss:

  • What is the new method scientists developed?
  • How can it help women?

computer switchboard
A biosensor connected to a robot is cutting the cost and the time it takes for LH test results.

What Is the New Method?

Conditions such as infertility and early menopause are traditionally diagnosed with a blood test to measure the level of the luteinizing hormone (LH). This hormone normally rises and falls with normal fertility-- known as the LH pulse pattern-- but it is hard to gather in a clinical setting. Until recently, women would have to have their blood drawn every 10 minutes for 8 hours or more. They would then be taken to a lab for analysis-- all and all an extremely uncomfortable and expensive test.

This recent study tested a biosensor that was linked to robot called the Robotic APTamer-enabled Electrochemical Reader (RAPTER) which has the ability to monitor the hormones of patients in real time. The sensor can take readings of the LH level in the blood and give an immediate response. The study tested LH pulse patterns using the RAPTER technology in 441 women.

Some of women in the sample were normally fertile, while others were menopausal or had stopped getting their period. The sensor was able to diagnose the differences in the LH and could give an immediate reading.

smiling women
When women are diagnosed earlier, they can begin treatment earlier.

How Can This Help Women?

Many women unknowingly suffer from reproductive issues-- whether that is infertility, early menopause, or many other problems. Accurate and affordable tests are not always available as well-- leading to delays in treatments or misdiagnoses. There is clearly a need to create new technology to help address these reproductive issues. The RAPTER is one step forward in helping women receive personalized treatment that is instant, affordable, and can be done in their doctor’s office.

The goal is to create an even less invasive method-- similar to that of a glucose monitoring kit. Using this type of hormone monitoring technology, researchers also hope to make this available for other types of disorders. Offering real time results that require no more invasive, lengthy, and costly procedures is the ultimate goal of biosensors such as RAPTOR.

By decreasing the cost and time it takes for results, technology is helping more and more women become aware of their reproductive problems. Giving them this knowledge allows them to move forward with treatment-- and more peace of mind.


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