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A biosensor thinner than a human hair that can monitor the hormone level and chronic inflammation

Researchers from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rutgers University-New Brunswick have created a biosensor microchip that does an accurate continuous readout of cortisol levels for real-time analysis and can be integrated into the wristband. They published their work in Science Advance "Single-step label-free nanowell immunoassay accurately quantifies serum stress hormones within minutes"


"Cortisol and other stress hormones regulate many aspects of our physical and mental health, including sleep quality. High levels of cortisol can result in poor sleep, which increases stress that can contribute to panic attacks, heart attacks, and other ailments. Currently, measuring cortisol takes costly and cumbersome laboratory setups, so the Rutgers-led team looked for a way to monitor its natural fluctuations in daily life and provide patients with feedback that allows them to receive the right treatment at the right time. The researchers used the same technologies used to fabricate computer chips to build sensors thinner than a human hair that can detect biomolecules at low levels."


"This study aims to bring laboratory-quality diagnostic to point of care and patient self-testing at a lower cost, and cortisol was chosen as a model analyte. The primary challenge faced by label-free technologies stems from measurement inconsistency, thus not being suitable for reliable quantification of molecular levels. The array structure of the sensor increases the probability of diffusion of the analyte and its subsequent binding to the sensor active area. Moreover, the sensor platform concentrates the electric field into the small volume of wells and reduces the noise from electrode polarization effect and solution conductivity, thereby producing a more accurate and reliable response. These systems can allow a continuous readout of cortisol levels for real-time analysis of patients subjected to stress and have great potential to be adapted to noninvasive cortisol measurement in desired biofluids such as human saliva and urine."




"The use of nanosensors allowed us to detect cortisol molecules directly without the need for any other molecules or particles to act as labels,” said lead author Reza Mahmoodi, a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.


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, said senior author Mehdi Javanmard, an associate professor in Rutgers’ Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.


“Our new sensor produces an accurate and reliable response that allows a continuous readout of cortisol levels for real-time analysis,” he added. “It has great potential to be adapted to non-invasive cortisol measurement in other fluids such as saliva and urine. The fact that molecular labels are not required eliminates the need for large bulky instruments like optical microscopes and plate readers, making the readout instrumentation something you can measure ultimately in a small pocket-sized box or even fit onto a wristband one day."


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