By routinely testing hormones or other biomarkers associated with depression or anxiety, Ahn said he could help doctors correlate how patients feel with actual changes in their biochemistry. This could improve treatment for countless patients, he said.
And the device can use saliva as well as blood, which is less invasive and stress-inducing than a finger prick.
“If you’re stressed from doing a finger prick, it’s already creating a bias in the testing of stress,” Ghosh said. “That’s why we’re moving to a noninvasive method.”
Ahn is pursuing a patent to commercialize his device. Medical diagnostics company Mico Biomed, which has offices in Cincinnati, is a co-author of the study.
The biggest hurdle could be making people feel confident and comfortable enough to use the unfamiliar device at home, he said.
But the vast amounts of data collected from the tests over time could help psychiatrists better understand the biochemistry underlying mental illness, which could lead to better evidence-based treatments, he said.
“My dream for the rest of my career at UC is to improve public and mental health by providing a new mobile health tool,” he said.