Researchers at Rutgers University have developed a microchip that allows real-time measurements of stress hormone levels in a drop of blood. Technology could replace bulky and expensive lab testing of these hormones and allow patients to control their stress levels more easily. The chip includes small wells that contain antibodies and the technology controls the binding of antibodies by means of impedance measurements performed using electrodes inside the device.
Life has been stressful for many people during the pandemic, where illness, blockages and general social turmoil have contributed to mental health problems and chronic stress. Aside from being an unpleasant experience, chronic stress is bad news for our health. Stress can be a major factor in sleep failure, heart problems and panic attacks, among other conditions.
One of the most effective ways to measure stress levels and provide concrete data on whether interventions help reduce stress is to measure the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the blood. However, this is not convenient at present, as it requires a laboratory test, using techniques such as ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay), which do not easily allow readings at the point of attention and require bulky and highly technical laboratory equipment. formats. .
The latter technology aims to help patients measure natural changes in cortisol levels and monitor trends over time, without having to send blood samples to a lab. “The use of nanosensors allowed us to detect cortisol molecules directly without the need for any other molecule or particle to act as tags,” Reza Mahmoodi, a researcher involved in the study, said in a Rutgers press release.
The new chip was manufactured on a glass substrate and contains a series of small wells and electrodes. Electrodes can measure the binding of antibodies within the device to provide sensitive measurements of cortisol levels in blood samples. So far, the researchers tested the device with human blood samples and showed that it is comparable in its accuracy and sensitivity to ELISA.
“With technologies like the new microchip, patients can control their hormone levels and better control chronic inflammation, stress and other conditions at a lower cost,” added Mehdi Javanmard, another researcher involved in the study. “Our new sensor produces a precise and reliable answer that allows a continuous reading of the levels of cortisol for analysis in real time. It has great potential to adapt to non-invasive measurement of cortisol in other fluids such as saliva and urine. The fact that no molecular labels are required eliminates the need for large bulky instruments such as optical microscopes and plate readers, making reading instrumentation something you can measure in a small box or even fit in a bracelet one day ”.
Study a Scientific advances: Single-step unlabeled nanowell immunoassay accurately quantifies serum stress hormones in minutes