Scientists are developing a novel test for diagnosis of adrenal insufficiency which can substantially decrease the requirement of complex investigations.
The current diagnosis of adrenal insufficiency involves a complex blood test to evaluate cortisol levels, which must be conducted in the hospital. The new test will provide an easier, cost-effective and less invasive way measuring cortisol levels in saliva rather than in the blood.
Researchers at the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust will be conducting a clinical trial to determine the levels of cortisol insufficiency that would be required in the salivary samples to provide a definitive diagnosis of the condition. For comparing the saliva test with the blood test, patients will have their salivary cortisol tested at home upon waking up, followed by measurement of blood cortisol in the hospital immediately thereafter.
The research team has received a grant of £205,000 from the National Institute for Health Research to bring the test into NHS practice within the next three years. It is estimated that the new test could reduce the number of complex investigations in England by 75 per cent, from ~92,000 annually to just 23,000.
Professor Richard Ross from the University of Sheffield, said: "We hope this important work will translate our research to date into an everyday test that can be performed at home by patients and used by all doctors when they suspect adrenal insufficiency."