We hear from the Bionics+ team on their project to develop a prototype sensor that can be worn on the skin to detect the levels of the hormone cortisol, known as a closed loop platform for endocrine system management, and let you know how you can contribute to the next stage of their research.

Back in our Winter magazine and online, we put a volunteer callout for people with Addison’s and adrenal insufficiency, as well as their family members or carers, to take part in a small discussion group with the Bionics+ team and other clinician and scientist collaborators.

The Bionics+ team are an interdisciplinary group of researchers from University of Birmingham (Dr Eder Zavala, Dr Gerard Cummings), University of Kent (Professor John Batchelor) and University of Warwick (Professor Michael Chappell), all working towards a closed loop platform for endocrine system management.

As people with Addison’s and adrenal insufficiency we know getting medication dosage right can be a significant challenge and this project hopes to provide an improved solution in the future. The project will harness approaches from mathematics and engineering to develop hormone-sensing technology, further informed by clinical expertise in endocrinology and medicine more broadly.

The Bionics+ team was overwhelmed with the enthusiastic response from the ADSHG community back in December 2022 and held an initial online meeting with a small group - thank you to everyone who took part!

Whilst the research project is still in very early phase of development, the Bionics+ team remain keen to ensure patient preferences are factored into the future design of the prototype technology from the very beginning. To this end, the team have been collaborating with Dr Caroline Gillett, also at Birmingham, to undertake patient involvement and engagement activities with the support of the ADSHG.

So all can share their views, diverse experiences and suggestions, the Bionics+ team have created an anonymous survey. You can help shape the design and delivery of new research into a cortisol sensor by completing this survey.

Take part in Bionics+ Survey 2023

The team will be looking at this feedback to identify common themes or practical suggestions which can be implemented to improve the next stage of the research design and development process. They will also share key learning from this survey as part of a webinar later this year, so that those who have contributed can learn how the information will be acted upon.

If you would like to feed in, you have until 31 July 2023 to complete the survey. We will also let you know about the webinar event when that happens! Many thanks to everyone who has been in touch with the Bionics+ team already.

Dr Eder Zavala comments: “Our goal is to harness the predictive power of mathematical models, micro-electronics and novel non-invasive skin patch sensor technologies to deliver a practical solution that helps people manage their cortisol levels."

"While there’s still a long road ahead of us, it is fundamental and inspirational to hear directly from people with lived experience about what are the key needs that would improve their quality of life."

"Recent workshops bringing together clinicians, mathematicians and people with lived experience are already helping us shape the direction of research to focus on these needs.”

If you have any questions about this study, please contact Caroline on: [email protected] 

Thank you Dr Eder Zavala and the teams at Universities of Birmingham, Warwick and Kent for researching further into this rare area of endocrine research for the benefit of those living with Addison’s and adrenal insufficiency.

The ADSHG receives regular approaches from researchers who are seeking our assistance with recruiting participants for their scientific projects. These approaches range from requests to publicise online questionnaires, to requests to assist with long-term clinical trials. Click here to more read more about our research application process

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