Summa Labs x Wyss Institute at Harvard

Advancing Saliva-Based Hormone Monitoring and Its Applications: Summa Labs Collaborates with Wyss Institute to Develop an Immunoassay for Testosterone and Cortisol Measurement

Advancing Saliva-Based Hormone Monitoring and Its Applications: Summa Labs Collaborates with Wyss Institute to Develop an Immunoassay for Testosterone and Cortisol Measurement.


Hormonal data provides accurate insight into the body's physiological condition and its changes over time. Monitoring of hormone levels, combined with the application of analytics can provide valuable resources in the broader quest to effectively inform and drive improvements in individual and collective health outcomes.

Collaborative efforts between the Wyss Institute at Harvard University and Summa Labs are propelling advancements in this domain, paving the way for a novel immunoassay for rapid, non-invasive, accurate, on-the-spot measurement of testosterone and cortisol levels in saliva. This collaboration aims to advance hormone monitoring and analytics practices, facilitating both research and practical applications in non-medical settings.

Innovative Immunoassay Development

Wyss Institute capitalizes on cutting-edge technology and scientific expertise to create  state-of-the-art immunoassay technology tailored for saliva-based hormone testing. 

Saliva is emerging as a valuable source of biomarkers for non-invasive diagnostic testing, offering several advantages over traditional blood samples. On the other hand, gathering biomarkers from saliva poses significant technological challenges due to a variety of factors inherent to the nature of saliva and the target biomarkers themselves.

Leveraging principles of immunochemistry, the assay under development enables precise and sensitive detection of testosterone and cortisol levels with minimal sample volumes. This innovation promises to enhance the accessibility, reliability and cost of hormone monitoring, empowering individuals to gain deeper insights into their health status across multiple domains.

Applications in Stress Analysis and Beyond

Instead of the traditional medical setting, the plan is to deploy the immunoassays utility in non-medical contexts, including stress research, performance optimization, and holistic wellness monitoring. 

Tracking cortisol and testosterone levels concurrently and over time, rather than measuring each hormone separately or through isolated tests, provides a fuller and more insightful perspective on an individual's physiological condition. This approach is firmly based on the established scientific practice of using the testosterone-to-cortisol ratio within sports science to evaluate an athlete's training condition, recovery status, and preparedness.

Summa Labs' investigation into stress began by examining the effects of athletic training load – the structured and goal-oriented application of physical stress as the primary stressor for the purpose of adaptation. The research expanded to simultaneous and longitudinal monitoring of both physical and mental stressors, revealing that daily, non-physical stressors can provoke increases in cortisol levels that are comparable to those resulting from intense physical activity. 

Remarkably, it was observed that an individual's anabolic response the following day, as measured by the testosterone-to-cortisol ratio, can be significantly influenced by these daily stressors. This insight is paving the way for a comprehensive model of stress, enabling the analysis of stress onset through the monitoring of cortisol increases, while distinguishing the nature of the stress—whether it is beneficial or detrimental—by observing the recovery of anabolic levels back to baseline.

Mr Marko Mäkinen, the CEO of Summa Labs, remarks on the significance of the collaboration, stating, "Our collaboration with the Wyss Institute represents a synergistic fusion of scientific excellence in academia and industry experience in product innovation. To both effectively cope with stress and to harness its advantages, we must be able to track and quantify overall loads, identify sources of pressure and assess their impact. We aim to create the tools to uniformly quantify all forms of stress, enabling the precise calibration of beneficial stressors to counterbalance the effects of negative stress. We believe this represents a significant leap forward in our ability to deeply understand stress across the spectrum. By utilizing the power of immunoassay technology, we aim to enable individuals to take proactive steps towards managing their well-being.”

Future Directions and Implications

The collaborative efforts between the Wyss Institute and Summa Labs could herald a new era in hormone monitoring technology, offering a new option in how individuals can track, perceive and manage stress and wider wellbeing. Moving forward, ongoing R&D endeavors will focus on testing and refining the immunoassay technology, expanding and optimizing its capabilities, as well as enveloping it in a consumer-friendly form factor 

The collaboration between the Wyss Institute and Summa Labs represents a testament to the transformative potential of interdisciplinary partnerships in driving innovation and advancing scientific knowledge. By utilizing  the power of immunoassay technology and data analytics approaches, the development of a saliva-based stress monitoring platform underscores a shared commitment to improving human health and well-being.

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