"We have developed a method for measuring cortical in saliva using a smart-phone and a disposable test strip. This innovation enables anyone with a smart-phone to measure their salivary cortical level quickly, accurately, and affordably," said lead study author Joel R L Ehrenkranz, director of diabetes and endocrinology of the Department of Medicine at Intermountain Healthcare in Murray, Utah.

Cortical is a hormone made by the adrenal glands that are essential for the body's response to stress, and measuring cortical can help diagnose adrenal diseases and monitor stress levels. Current testing for salivary cortical levels involves collecting a saliva sample and sending it to a clinical lab for analysis.

"A lab charges about USD 25 to USD 50 for a quantitative salivary cortical test and has a turnaround time of days to a week. This test, taken in a medical office or at home, will cost less than USD 5 and take less than 10 minutes," Ehrenkranz said.

"The device is a reader that includes a case, a light pipe, and a lens and costs about a dollar to make. There is no battery power and it's unbreakable, passive and reusable," Ehrenkranz said.

Doctors worldwide can use the smart-phone test to help them diagnose adrenal insufficiency and hypercorticolism and monitor physiologic variations in cortical concentration; and individuals can monitor their own cortical levels whenever they like, researchers said.

The person being tested inserts a straw-like saliva collector under the tongue. The collector wicks the saliva by capillary action to an immunoassay strip housed in a cassette and the cassette is inserted into the reader.

The smartphone uses its camera and flash to take a picture of the saliva-coated strip and an algorithm converts the image's pixel density to a cortisol value.

The device was presented at ICE/ENDO 2014, the joint meeting of the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society in Chicago.


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