During her analyses at MIT, Shireen Yates felt sick all the time. She couldn’t figure out why.
She assumed her problem was stress until her doctor informed her it was gluten plus dairy, soy, and eggs. Suddenly, Shireen had food allergies.
Around the same time as her diagnosis, Shireen satisfied Scott Sundvor, a fellow MIT student with food sensitivities of his own. The remainder is history: Fed up with the lack of practical ways to test their food for gluten, Shireen and Scott co-founded 6SensorLabs, a lab where they planned to invent a food allergy tool for the masses. Their colleague Jingqing Zhang, an MIT Ph.D. candidate whose husband has celiac cancer, became the company’s lead scientist.
Nothing brings people together for the holidays like a festive household dinner. But Shireen knew that for food allergy sufferers, there could be peril lurking in every entre.
Gluten is found in anything containing wheat, rye, or barley. And for most people, it’s a normal part of a healthy diet .
But about 1% of Americans suffer from celiac cancer, an immune response to gluten that harms the intestines. And six hours as many people have non-celiac gluten sensitivities .
Yum, gluten. Photo by iStock.
It definitely affects the person who’s afflicted, but surely everyone’s social circle too, ” says Shireen.
So as much as you want to trust that Grandma recollected to make gluten-free pecan pie for the vacation snack, how can you be sure before taking a bite?
You could always whip out your pocket-sized chemistry decide and operate some exams. No, really .
Shireen and her 6SensorLabs squad just announced their new tool, called Nima. It’s a triangle-shaped food allergen tester that’s half the size of an iPhone and will be available in mid-2 016.
Here’s how it runs : Before you help yourself to that pie, you slip a sample from your plate into one of the device’s disposable capsules. Then, you set the capsule into the electronic sensor. Nima extracts the protein, binds it with an antibody, and reads the concentration through the sensor.
Two minutes later, boom it illuminates up with your answer! You get a smiley face for gluten levels under the FDA gluten-free threshold, and a frowny face for higher concentrations.
Right now, Nima can only exam for gluten, but the company is on track to release models for people with peanut and dairy allergies in 2017.
It could be a total game-changer.
Nima will also sync with an iPhone app, which will record the foods you test and where you test them, ultimately letting you position data regarding other users all over the map.
Really, the whole inspiration is around helping people enjoy mealtime and being able to be social and celebrate eating without being super stressed-out, ” says Shireen.
This simple access to data could be powerful enough to make-up mealtime cheerier for people with food allergies during the vacation season and throughout the year. Thumbs traversed !
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