Detect Candida albicans via feminine hygiene products


The method manipulates the properties of cotton multifilament yarns in the form of microfluidic yarn-based analysis devices (μTAD) to render a simple color change in positive cases.

“Can we use frequently used items and disposable materials, such as sanitary napkins and hydrogels, to detect the presence of pathogens in urine and vaginal secretions? Suggested Naresh Mani, PhD, associate professor of biotechnology at the Manipal Institute of Technology in India, whose research focuses on the development of frugal sensors or systems using commercial items.

Mani is also the corresponding author of a review article on yarn knitting devices for detecting Candida albicans in ACS Omega, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society.

“In low-income communities, women who are at high risk of developing yeast infections are normally burdened by the direct and indirect cost of diagnosis,” Mani said. Contemporary OB / GYN®. “The diagnosis requires frequent visits to the hospital, which involves taking samples and following up with the doctor. “

The alternative of a home detection kit to check for the presence of a pathogen could be provided by health centers and non-governmental organizations, according to Mani. “This approach affirms the importance of frugal and hygiene product-based detection systems, which can improve the quality of life of women in least developed countries,” he said.

The frugal microbial identification test targets all age groups, but primarily women 36 and older.

“The goal is the mercerization of the yarns to increase their absorption efficiency and soak up appropriate pathogen-specific substrates,” Mani said.

The easy mercerization method uses a heptane wash to enhance reagent absorption and penetration, which has been shown to be more robust than other existing conventional mercerization methods.

Compared to untreated yarn, heptane treated yarn gave better results at lower concentrations of C. albicans and comparable results for higher concentrations.

In addition, the twisted mercerized fibers are drop-cast with a medium consisting of L-proline beat-naphthylamide, which undergoes hydrolysis by the enzyme L-proline aminopeptidase secreted by C. albicans, thereby signaling the presence of the pathogen via a color change, with a detection limit of 0.58 × 106 cfu / mL.

When the flexible, easily disposable wire-based detection device is integrated with menstrual hygiene products, the detection time is 10 minutes for spiked vaginal discharge.

“Our method also has a long shelf life and high stability, making it an inconspicuous detection device for testing, while offering new perspectives for self-testing of several diseases considered taboo in some societies.” , said Mani.

Mani and his fellow researchers performed the test on simulated vaginal fluid. “We have yet to determine the sensitivity and specificity of the proposed test,” Mani said. “Still, a chairside or point-of-care test that can provide a qualitative answer could be a breakthrough for clinicians.”

Meanwhile, integrating this approach to detect, colorimetrically, myriads of pathogens will be a daunting task, according to Mani, noting that artificial intelligence and machine learning may provide a better solution.

The cost of a single test will likely cost the consumer less than $ 1.

“Our microfluidics, sensors and diagnostics lab is welcoming other research groups and companies for possible collaboration,” said Mani.


  1. Prabhu A, Singhal H, Nandagopal MSG et al. Knitting yarn devices: detect Candida albicans using towels and tampons. ACS Omega. 2021. 6, 19; 12667-12675. doi: org / 10.1021 / acsomega.1c00806

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