Scientist Still Testing 'Ovu-Timer'

Over a decade after he and several doctors at the Medical School and MIT began seeking a way to determine a woman's ovulation period, Melvin Shapiro predicts--and hopes--that their discovery, the "Ovu-Timer," will be on the mass market within a year.

The device, which is touted as a contraceptive and an aid to infertile women attempting to achieve conception, is currently being tested on humans and animals, Shapiro, who is treasurer and executive vice president of Ovu-Time, Inc., said yesterday.

Ovu-Time hopes to market a $10, less complex version of the "Ovu-Timer" being used experimentally by women in eight clinics in and outside the United States, Shapiro said. Before the device is made available by prescription, however, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration must approve it by evaluating data collected in the tests.

'Shapiro's co-partners in Ovu-Time, Inc., are Dr. Harold Kosasky, a clinical instructor in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Med School; Dr. Samuel R. Schuster, assistant clinical professor of Surgery at the Med School; and Louis F. Kopito, who is a researcher at MIT.

Ovu-Timer works by measuring the viscosity of a woman's cervical mucus, which becomes "fluid and watery during ovulation," Shapiro said.

The device can also reveal that the source of a woman's infertility is a "thick-mucus syndrome" that sperm cannot penetrate, he added. Once identified, this syndrome can be combatted with medical treatment or artificial insemination.

Cows and Horses

The Ovu-Timer is also being tested on milk cows and thoroughbred horses. "Ninety-five per cent of all milk cows are artificially inseminated," Shapiro noted. "The artificial insemination works 75 per cent of the time. The Ovu-Timer will increase results to 85 per cent. This will benefit our food supply."