Scientists develop patch to warn wearers of dangerous stress levels

by Jenny Mount · Feb 18th, 2021 2:24 pm

Last Updated Feb 19th, 2021 at 3:08 pm

Scientists from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology are in the process of developing a sensor that can be worn to measure the amount of cortisol, the human "stress hormone," in sweat. The doctors involved are hoping such a device will allow those with certain diseases interrupting normal bodily fluctuations of cortisol to have their conditions detected and treated, preventing more serious complications.

"In people who suffer from stress-related diseases, this circadian rhythm is completely thrown off," Adrian Ionescu, head of EPFL's Nanoelectronic Devices Laboratory, said. "And if the body makes too much or not enough cortisol, that can seriously damage an individual's health, potentially leading to obesity, cardiovascular disease, depression, or burnout."

Conditions like Addison's disease prevent the body's necessary production of cortisol, while others like Cushing's disease cause too much of its production. Ionescu and his team hope that their wearable patch will help stabilize the quality of life for both groups by allowing physicians to provide appropriate treatment and supplements.

Though cortisol can be measured in both saliva and urine, the Swiss team decided to design a non-invasive patch that is painless for the wearer.

They are preparing for clinical trials in the near future.

"The joint R&D team at EPFL and Xsensio reached an important R&D milestone in the detection of the cortisol hormone," Xsensio CEO Esmeralda Megally commented. "We look forward to testing this new sensor in a hospital setting and unlocking new insight into how our body works."


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