SmartJane is a new women’s health test out from uBiome today that promises to check for 23 vaginal flora as well as 19 strains of the human papilloma virus and a string of sexually transmitted diseases like Chlamydia and gonorrhea from the comfort of your own home.
uBiome, which launched in 2012 to sequence and study the human microbiome, is best known for its at-home gut health test, SmartGut. This test sequences the DNA of your, well, poop to determine what’s going on in your digestive tract.
The SmartJane test, which can be ordered from your doctor or online through uBiomes network of physicians, is along the same vein in that it can detect and then genotype any trace of HPV to determine the strain as well as tell you what kind of healthy or unhealthy bacteria you’re working with…down there.
The genetic component is what sets this test apart from other at-home STD tests available from startups like MyLabBox or Everlywell. While these tests work in much the same way — you order online and then send it out to a certified lab for results — genotyping the organisms that might live among your lady parts can help determine the seriousness of the strain.
You can also go into a clinic or your doctor’s office to get tested for STI’s such as HPV. However, uBiome’s kit includes certain tests not readily available in other at-home tests or common to doctor’s offices such as Mycoplasma genitalium, which is an asymptomatic STI that can cause unexplained infertility.
“Often people are tested for it when there’s evidence of infertility but then it’s too late,” Dr. Jessica Richman, founder of uBiome told TechCrunch.
uBiome has collected thousands of samples over five years in a peer-reviewed study and claims a near 100 percent accuracy in detection of these diseases. The startup is now publishing a scientific paper on its findings
As with its original gut health test, uBiome processes the SmartJane tests in a CLIA-certified and CAP-accredited lab and then sends results to its HIIPA-compliant website. Those receiving results indicating an infection are then directed to speak with their doctor or to uBiome’s external clinical care network for further instructions.
Dr. Richman emphasized the SmartJane test was not meant to replace the testing you might get from a doctor’s office, but was rather something to help you further test in between well woman visits.
It may also encourage women to get testing for certain possibly life-threatening STI’s such as HPV. There are over 170 strains of the virus but only a few cause deadly cancer if left untreated. However, less than 80 percent of women in the U.S. go to their OBGYN for regular Pap screenings. An at-home test may take away some of the worry and stress of going in for a Pap Smear (the commonly used method of gathering cells to test for HPV).
In fact, women are more than twice as likely to self-test than go to their doctor first, according to a meta-analysis of 10 studies.
“What we are doing is making novel tests that are, in addition to what’s on the market, easier to get,” Dr. Richman said.
Those interested can either request the test through their doctor or go online and order the test through uBiome where (as stated above) a licensed physician will be assigned to review your test first.