Cortisol and other stress hormones regulate many aspects of our physical and mental health, including the quality of sleep. High cortisol levels can result in poor sleep, increasing stress that can contribute to panic attacks, heart attacks, etc.
Currently, measuring cortisol requires expensive and cumbersome laboratory setups. But a new microchip would allow us to have continuous and easy feedback on our stress levels.
Sensors thinner than a human hair
A team of researchers led by Rutgers, as described in the journal Science Advances , has developed a microchip that can measure stress hormones in real time from a drop of blood.
The researchers used the same technologies used to make computer chips to build sensors thinner than a human hair that can detect biomolecules at low levels. They validated the performance of the miniaturized device in 65 blood samples from patients with rheumatoid arthritis .
With technologies like the team’s new microchip, patients can monitor their hormone levels and better manage chronic inflammation, stress and other conditions at a lower cost.
As lead author Mehdi Javanmard , Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rutgers, explains:
Our new sensor produces an accurate and reliable response that allows a continuous reading of cortisol levels for real-time analysis. It has great potential to adapt to the non-invasive measurement of cortisol in other fluids such as saliva and urine. The fact that molecular labels are not required eliminates the need for large and bulky instruments like optical microscopes and plate readers, making reading instrumentation something you can ultimately measure in a small pocket box or even in a bracelet one day.