Georgie Kovacs, Fertility4Me: before we get into Pearl specifically, tell us about your background.
Leo: I am a scientist. I completed my PhD at the University of Cambridge in the UK working in biosensors and how we could bring photonics and light technology, or camera detection, into the biomedical field. So, that’s my background and where I come from. Then, I turned that into trying to find applications for it. One of them was fertility and measuring hormones with urine tests and that’s how Pearl actually developed. One has to use spectrometers in labs to measure substances on liquids and those machines are very expensive. I bought one of them. I was thinking, “that machine has everything you find in a smartphone except the light splitters and the prisms.” I got to work with programming built the first prototype of the Colorimetrix technology and that’s what I bring into fertility today.
Georgie: So, tell us in simple terms what Pearl does and what’s different about it.
Leo: Pearl is a mobile app that uses the current technology of transforming smartphones into measuring devices. Very simply, it takes pictures of hormone test strips. These tests change color when they’re exposed to certain hormones and concentration. Depending on the color, it indicates a change in concentration. These strips already exist, you can buy them in every pharmacy. What Pearl does differently is that it can measure the hormone levels in between the levels of coloration. Instead of having only positive, negative, happy face, sad face results, you can get a hormone level based on your relative, daily hormonal baseline. We teamed up with fertility specialists. We work close together with endocrinology centers here in Germany and clinics that help women with conception. This helps us understand and apply this science into the hormonal profiles for better understanding of the menstrual cycles.
Georgie: you mentioned that some of your female colleagues at Colormetrix were so excited at being able to understand their hormone levels and some patients who were able to associate, maybe, why they had a headache on a given day with a change in a hormone level. Maybe you can talk more about that and the types of hormones being measured.