Taking The Pulse Of Reproductive Disorders

Scientists in Hong Kong and the UK have devised a method to monitor hormone pulse patterns in patients with reproductive disorders.

AsianScientist (Mar. 7, 2019) – A team of researchers in Hong Kong and the UK has developed a robotic platform technology to measure hormone pulse patterns in patients with reproductive disorders. Their work is published in Nature Communications.

Many reproductive disorders are caused by altered pulse patterns of hormone secretion in the blood stream, leading to a variety of reproductive disorders such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and hypothalamic amenorrhaea. These conditions manifest as infertility, metabolic syndrome and depression.

Currently, single measurements from a blood sample do not reveal to clinicians the pulse pattern of hormone secretion over time. Hence, to properly diagnose PCOS and hypothalamic amenorrhaea, multiple measurements of hormone concentration in the blood are needed, posing challenges to sample collection and rapid analysis.

In this study, researchers led by Associate Professor Julian Tanner of the University of Hong Kong, with colleagues at Imperial College London, UK, found a high-throughput way to measure the pulse pattern of luteinizing hormone, a molecule that is involved in reproductive disorders. They first generated a short piece of DNA, known as an aptamer, which specifically bound to luteinizing hormone without binding to other closely related hormones.

The team integrated this aptamer with an electrochemical detector so that when the aptamer changed shape in the presence of the hormone, the electrical properties of the surface changed, enabling direct measurement of the concentration of the hormone in a blood sample. This electrochemical detector was further modified into a wire on a robotic platform so that hundreds of blood samples could be easily measured in parallel.

The scientists then used a new mathematical approach termed Bayesian spectrum analysis to determine the pulse pattern of luteinizing hormone in a variety of clinical scenarios.

“Diagnosis of reproductive disorders that often cause infertility is a long-standing challenge. This study provides an innovative underlying biomedical technology that has the potential to transform medical diagnostics through enabling repeated or even continuous measurement of hormone and other biomolecule concentrations,” said Tanner.

The article can be found at: Liang et al. (2019) Measuring Luteinising Hormone Pulsatility With a Robotic Aptamer-enabled Electrochemical Reader.


Source: University of Hong Kong; Photo: Shutterstock.
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