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Disrupting the Flow: Dr. Naseri's Revolutionary Approach to Empowering Women's Health

ReachMD Healthcare Image
04/03/2024
news-medical.net

Welcome to our International Women's Day series, where we shine a spotlight on women who are forging paths and making significant impacts in the field of medicine, particularly in women's health. 

Today, we are honored to introduce Dr. Sara Naseri, CEO and Co-Founder of Qvin, a trailblazing company at the forefront of women's health technology. In our conversation, Dr. Naseri shares insights into the inspiration behind Qvin, the groundbreaking Q-Pad™ technology, and how their work contributes to this year's theme of inspiring inclusion in healthcare.

Join us as we delve into the challenges and triumphs of innovating in women's health, and learn how Qvin's technologies are empowering women and people who menstruate, especially in underrepresented communities, to take control of their health in unprecedented ways.

Firstly, please introduce yourself and outline your career to date. More specifically, could you share with us what inspired you to co-found Qvin and delve into the realm of women’s health technology?

I was passionate about enabling people to be more preventative about their health and wanted to find a way that would allow patients to obtain clinically relevant information about their health regularly and non-invasively.

When I was in medical school, I identified menstrual blood as a simple way to gain health insights non-invasively and regularly for half of the world’s population - females. I led a research team that in 2019 published one of the first peer reviewed studies on the clinical relevancy of menstrual blood, previously considered waste, in the Journal of Clinical and Laboratory Medicine in 2019.

My team and I proved that essential health information can be gleaned from menstrual blood and I then went on to Co-Found Qvin and its pioneering Q-Pad™for women globally.

70% of medical decisions are made based on blood testing and lab work. The traditional methods of blood testing require invasive procedures administered by medical professionals, which are time-consuming and expensive. And yet, menstrual blood - a monthly cycle of blood release - has never been explored as a diagnostic source for health information. Qvin published never-been-done-before research that menstruation contains significant and clinically relevant health information.

This International Women’s Day focuses on inclusion and equality. How does Qvin’s work contribute to these goals in the healthcare sector?

At Qvin our goal is to make health care accessible for all females as well as close the gender data gap that exists in women’s health. Not everyone has the time, access and financial means to get laboratory results for blood work, however, billions of people globally bleed every single month and can get access to important health information simply by using the Q-pad.

At the same time, there is a gender gap in medicine and science. Women's health research has been overlooked, underfunded and most importantly, stigmatized. It was not until 1993 when women and minorities were, by law, included in clinical trials.

However, there continues to be an ongoing lack of female representation and participation in medical research. 70% of chronic pain patients are female, yet women only represent 20% of chronic pain research. By utilizing menstrual blood that billions of people throw away monthly, Qvin will help close the medical gender data gap.

Dr. Naseri, for our audience who may not be familiar, could you explain how the Q-Pad technology works and what makes it a groundbreaking development in menstrual health monitoring?

Qvin’s Q-Pad is the first and only FDA cleared diagnostic menstrual pad that is a convenient, no needle alternative to traditional lab blood testing using period blood.

Testing menstrual blood with the Q-Pad eliminates common barriers to traditional laboratory testing such as lack of access, anxiety, invasiveness, time, or financial means. Removing these barriers to care can lead to better and more accurate diagnoses and management of our health.

The Q-Pad allows women to leverage their natural period for regular insights about their bodies so that we can enable early detection and be truly preventative.

Not only does the Q-Pad provide women with an easy, non-invasive way to track their health, but by utilizing menstrual blood that billions of people throw away monthly, Qvin will help close the medical gender data gap. Qvin believes menstrual blood is a superpower for women and for women's health research.

How it works

The Q-Pad is used just like any other menstrual pad available on the market. We recommend you use two Q-Pads during your monthly cycle.

  • Download the Qvin app and register your kit.
  • To use, simply unwrap the Q-Pad and affix it to your underwear.
  • Wear it until the oval (marked on pad) saturated with blood.
  • Remove the novel dry blood collection strip from inside the pad, put it into the pre-paid packaging that comes with your Qvin kit and mail back to the CLIA-Certified Qvin Lab.
  • Drop the pre-paid packaging in the mail within 72 hours with your two collection strips.
  • You will receive your results in the Qvin app within 5-10 days after shipping, in the form of a secure, digital lab report you can also share with your physician.

Image Credit: Qvin

How does the Q-Pad compare to traditional methods of health monitoring and diagnostics in terms of accuracy, convenience, and user experience? Additionally, beyond diabetes monitoring, what other health conditions could potentially be diagnosed or monitored effectively using the Q-Pad technology?

The Q-Pad Kit marks a significant innovation in healthcare diagnostics as the first and only FDA-cleared diagnostic menstrual pad that captures menstrual blood for critical health testing, akin to traditional lab tests.

This pioneering product allows individuals to collect samples in the comfort of their own homes without the need for lab visits, finger pricks, or venous blood draws. Designed with organic cotton and a removable collection strip, the Q-Pad offers a seamless experience during menstruation. After collection, the strip is mailed to a lab for clinical testing, avoiding the hassle of returning the entire pad.

Empowering women to take charge of their health, the Q-Pad Kit is a vital tool for informed discussions with healthcare providers, backed by routine, preventative health screenings. Its accuracy aligns with traditional testing standards, undergoing rigorous validation in CLIA/CAP certified laboratories.

The Q-Pad's reliability is further underscored by its adherence to the highest validation standards, including NGSP for the A1c test and comparison to venous blood for other tests, ensuring results are as dependable as those from conventional diagnostic methods.

The overwhelming acceptance of the Q-Pad is evident from a 2023 research study where 94% of 614 respondents favored the concept, and a clinical trial with 285 participants revealed a strong preference for the Q-Pad over traditional Pap smears, with 91% favoring the Q-Pad and 99% endorsing it for HR-HPV screening.

Created by the Qvin team and myself, the Q-Pad aims to offer a global solution for earlier HR-HPV screening, a critical factor in preventing cervical cancer deaths. It also provides access to a range of biomarkers important for monitoring various health conditions, including thyroid health, diabetes and pre-diabetes management, inflammation, anemia, ovarian reserve, and other fertility and perimenopause indicators.

Our research has validated the concordance between venous and menstrual blood for cholesterol and lipids, with plans to expand the list of biomarkers through further validation. This innovative approach facilitates easier access to essential health screenings and opens new avenues for preventive healthcare.

How significant is the FDA clearance for the Q-Pad and A1c Test, and what does it mean for the future of menstrual blood testing in the healthcare industry?

Qvin is the first and only healthcare service that collects menstrual blood samples as an alternative to traditionally collected venous blood draws. The FDA clearance makes it possible for the millions of women in America who live with diabetes to receive monitoring of A1c, using laboratory tests performed on the Q-Pad.

More broadly, this marks an opportunity for testing important biomarkers for the more than 80 million people who menstruate in the U.S. The traditional methoblood testing methods require invasive procedures administered by medical professionals, which are time-consuming and expensive.

Not everyone has the time, access, and financial means to get laboratory results for blood work; however, billions of people globally have their period every single month. And yet, menstrual samples had never previously been explored as a diagnostic source for health information. Removing these barriers to care can lead to better and more accurate diagnoses and health management.

Qvin proved the clinical relevancy of menstrual blood for a number of important biomarkers.The Q-Pad was initially created to identify biomarkers for HPV and has expanded and identified additional biomarkers to test for, including pre/diabetes, anemia, fertility, perimenopause, endometriosis, and thyroid health.

Why is it essential to prioritize women's health in public health agendas, and what are the broader societal impacts of doing so?

Women's health research has been overlooked, underfunded and most importantly, stigmatized. Female biology has not been studied equally since the beginning of medical research. It was not until 1993 when women and minorities were, by law, included in clinical trials. The data used to guide clinical diagnosis today is biased to male biology.

So, when women are not included in research, medical diagnosis may not be accurate for women. There continues to be an ongoing lack of female representation and participation in medical research. And we want to change that.

We believe menstrual blood is a superpower for women and for women's health research. By utilizing menstrual blood that billions of people throw away monthly, it is our goal to help close the medical gender data gap.

Image Credit: ESB Professional/Shutterstock.com

What were some of the most significant scientific challenges you faced in developing the Q-Pad, and how did you overcome them?

The biggest roadblock was proving the clinical relevancy of menstrual blood. My team and I will continue research to scientifically prove women can get access to additional biomarkers on the Q-Pad.

In what ways do you believe Qvin’s technology empowers women and people who menstruate, particularly in underrepresented communities?

Our goal with Qvin and our novel Q-Pad and educational technology is to revolutionize healthcare and change how we care for ourselves. First and foremost the, the Q-Pad provides an accessible way to screen the population in the comfort of their own home, giving them regular insights that them become more preventative when it comes to their health.

One of the biggest opportunities we see with Qvin and our Q-Pad Kit technology is granting access to non-invasive and convenient testing to millions of people in the US and around the world who do not have immediate access to a healthcare provider.

In the future, I can see a time when a gynecologist recommends a Q-Pad Kit to patients, especially those at higher risk for preventable diseases like cervical cancer.

Looking forward, what emerging technologies or trends do you believe will further revolutionize women’s health in the next decade?

Technologies that provide easy, convenient and clinically relevant information will be key in revolutionizing women’s health. Women are eager to take control of their health and they want their health information but they are busy with carriers and family life and do not have time to go into a lab/hospital/doctor’s office regularly.

We need technologies that allow women to continue their lives as busy and critical members of our work force and family unites without missing important early signs of health.

Lastly, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, what advice would you give to young women aspiring to enter the field of medical technology and entrepreneurship?

For women’s health issues to become a priority we need more females (in addition to males) to want to join this field and contribute to its enhancement. There is a massive opportunity to capture because it is an area of health care that has been overlooked.

It is incredible to work in an area of health where there are still major questions to be answered and to be part of helping find those answers for such a big part of the world's population.

Where can readers find more information?

Website: Qvin - Empowering women. Period.

Press release: FDA clearance press release

Peer reviewed publications:

About Dr. Sara Naseri

Dr. Sara Naseri, CEO and Co-Founder of Qvin, a global women’s healthcare service leveraging menstrual blood for early diagnostics, graduated from Aarhus University, Denmark, in 2019.

Her extensive involvement in medical research spans prestigious institutions like Yale, Kyoto University, and Stanford University, where she focused on women's health and cervical cancer screening technologies.

Early in her career, at 16, Naseri co-founded Bucky’o’Zun, developing a UV-absorbing compound to protect against skin cancer, earning her the nickname “Ozone Girl” and numerous awards, including first place from the European Parliament in Intel Challenge Europe and Denmark’s Female Entrepreneur of the Year in 2013.

Naseri, who has contributed to education and technology innovation advisory groups, is also a recognized speaker and was the youngest participant in Singularity University's Graduate Studies Program. Fluent in Danish, English, and Persian, her work aims to advance medical solutions and health standards globally.

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Schedule27 May 2024