Two Indian scientists claim to have come up with almost a sure-fire way of measuring mental stress.
Deepak Mathur at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) and C Santosh, head of laser spectroscopy at the Manipal Life Sciences Centre say shining ultra-fast laser beams through saliva can detect stress levels with a precision that could be superior to the current methods of using blood or biochemical saliva tests.
Saliva contains a protein that is a direct measure of physiological and psychological stress. As stress levels contribute to lifestyle diseases — software giant Infosys even operates a hotline and stress audits for staff — using saliva as a non-invasive 'stress marker' is a subject of competitive global research with implications for India,
And this is how it works -
From a swab of saliva, a protein that identifies stress level is isolated.
Ultra-fast light is shot through water and its frequency spectrum recorded.
When the protein is added, the light spectrum narrows.
Simply put, the narrower the light, higher the stress level.
"Our concept is workable if a clever company pursues it to design a hospital instrument," said Mathur, who described results in the international Journal of Biomedical Optics last March. "We are the first to propose using intense-laser technology to detect stress from saliva. But at the research stage, it's expensive."
"Hospitals that use saliva diagnosis rely on equipment that profiles all chemical constituents of saliva, leading to high chances of error," said Mathur. "Unlike laser technology, it also requires biochemicals added to samples."
Santosh noted, "Anyway saliva is hardly used as a stress indicator today since the link between stress and saliva is not clearly established. But our technology could immediately quantify and correlate stress with saliva."
Mathur and Santosh are setting up a lab at Manipal in Karnataka in southern India to launch clinical trials, reports the Hindustan Times.