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A group of students in the Triangle area created menstrual pads that detect cervical diseases

Members of the Sensible pad team pose for a picture with the mascot of the Lemelson MIT Program.
Rupen Fofaria
Members of the Sensible pad team pose for a picture with the mascot of the Lemelson MIT Program.

“Sensible pads” are designed as low-cost products to use at home for people in underserved areas, without having to test it in a lab.

A team of students at Raleigh's Enloe High School have designed a pad that detects cervical diseases like cancer, when someone's on their period.

Sensible pads” have test strips inside that can screen for diseases through menstrual blood. The pad has four layers, and is 100% cotton, reusable and biodegradable.

“The distribution layer specifically has a transverse fiber structure that distributes blood flow across the pad, so that it doesn't concentrate in one area,” said Nandini Kanthi, the team’s leader and original co-inventor, during a presentation to MIT.

Sensible pads are aimed at helping people living in rural areas without access to healthcare facilities. Anisha Roy, another original co-inventor of the sensible pad, said menstrual cycles are taboo in certain countries like India.

“So, a lot of us on the team come from shared South Asian or Asian backgrounds,” Roy told WUNC. “And, by targeting those regions first, or at least trying to bring health care to those regions first, [then] we can try to bridge the inequities that prevent menstruating people from getting the health care that they need.”

The sensible pad team has received funding for their efforts from the Raleigh City Council and the Lemelson MIT Program, which awards money to inspiring young inventors.

Members of the team said the pads are currently patent pending but they hope to run clinical trials for the pads in the next two years. In addition to Roy and Kanthi, the team also includes rising sophomores Shailen Fofaria and Ishita Bafna as well as senior Esther Ghim, another original co-inventor of the product.

Sharryse Piggott is WUNC’s PM Reporter.
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