College of Engineering Unit:
Approximately 80 million adults in the United States have experienced some form of mental illness, 32.8 million individuals over the age of 18 do not have health insurance, and the cost of just one at home hormone test can be $200. These startling statistics contribute to the overarching problem of healthcare hesitation; where overall cost as well as stigma surrounding mental health prevent individuals from accessing healthcare. Whereas competitors require inconvenient in-lab testing or at-home tests commonly with invasive blood sampling and shipment to labs for results, Harmony allows testing in the comfort and convenience of one’s own home with non-invasive saliva sampling and immediate results via an easy-to-use app. With this in mind, we have developed Harmony, an easy, inexpensive, and discrete at home test for mental health markers. Since hormone levels vary by person, Harmony generates data to compare to personal levels. Cortisol, dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine can be routinely tested as they have direct correlations to mental health. The product consists of test strips for each hormone, a testing container, and a sample collection tube. It operates by a lateral flow test utilizing an enzyme-linked immunoassay (ELISA) competitive assay. Hormones of interest present in the saliva sample will bind with antibodies tagged with gold nanoparticles (indicator) and flow through the test strip. High hormone concentration correlates with less intensity in the test zone. The results are then analyzed based on the intensity of the color change induced by this assay using the camera on a smartphone device and our app. The app uses a smartphone camera to analyze, track, and share results with healthcare professionals. The app will also allow the user to connect with the Harmony community and utilize mental health resources. This information can be shared with a physician to provide greater context of hormone levels. The initial testing kit will be sold for $27.99 and available in discreet packaging at drugstores. Users can then enroll in a subscription service for additional test strips.