'Stress-busters' invest in quicker diagnostics

Published: 12 July 2010 at 11:37

New equipment will speed up the processing of saliva samples for stress analysis

Anglia Ruskin University has invested in £150,000 of new equipment to allow its Department of Psychology's Applied, Social, Health and Research Group to improve its saliva testing service which is the fast-developing alternative to blood testing for the monitoring of stress levels. 

At a time when stress, anxiety and depression are a part of everyday life, this new technology is helping to speed up the testing service which is being used by different organisations to monitor stress within sport, health, wellbeing and various occupational environments.  One recent report has shown that Cambridgeshire police officers took more than 1,000 days off due to stress and depression alone (the data covers April 2009 to March this year).

Psychologists at Anglia Ruskin University are using a Tecan liquid handling platform to automate Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) analysis of cortisol and immunoglobulin A (IgA) levels, to explore the relationship between stress and the immune response for both chronic and acute stress.  ELISA-based analysis is a biochemical technique used mainly in immunology to detect the presence of an antibody or an antigen in a sample.

Dr Matt Bristow, Senior Lecturer in Biological Psychology, explained the benefit of the new system,

"We are modeling stress in a controlled environment using the effects of different types of stress on the immune response.  For example, one recent project looked at carers of people with dementia, and we discovered that the long-term chronic stress they experience tends to raise levels of IgA.  At the other extreme, we followed a number of volunteers through their first tandem parachute jump, looking at progressive increases in salivary cortisol before the event, and the effect that this has on the immune system’s reaction."

"We are using the new equipment to automate testing, considerably increasing daily throughput from a maximum of 100 samples manually, to over 600 with the new testing platform.  The system has an scanner for barcode recognition, software for tracking, database integration and printing offering full automation of the whole process."

"The system has delivered considerably more than our initial expectations, eliminating human errors, scheduling assays dynamically for increased throughput giving us much more reliable data in a far shorter time which can only help with the profiling of damaging stress levels and the actioning of stress-beating therapies."

The Department of Psychology's Applied, Social, Health and Research Group has internationally-acclaimed expertise in the analysis of saliva for a range of hormones and immunological markers, for example the hormones cortisol & testosterone and the mucosal antibody immunoglobulin A (IgA).

Anglia Ruskin University offers its Salivary Assay Consultancy via Salimetrics Europe, a part of US company Salimetrics - a world leader in saliva analysis, to offer a bespoke Saliva Testing Service within Europe for a wide range of Salivary Biomarkers including: Alpha Amylase, Androstenedione, Blood Contamination, Cortisol, Cotinine, C-Reactive Protein, DHEA, DHEA-S, Estradiol, Estriol, Estrone, Progesterone, 17 alpha-Hydroxyprogesterone, Secretory IgA, Testosterone.

See www.salimetrics.com for more details or contact info@salimetricseurope.com

If you would like more information call Dr Matt Bristow on 0845 196 2571 or email Anglia Ruskin University on research@anglia.ac.uk or visit www.anglia.ac.uk