Spit Lab Facility

Biosafety Level II Wet Lab Activities

Contact: spitlab@iastate.edu

The SPIT lab possesses all the equipment necessary for enzyme immunoassays in a biosafety level II wet laboratory. Laboratory supplies for saliva, hair (including hair extraction equipment) or urinary assays. This laboratory also contains the LIAMTM reader, which is used to quantitate the near real-time salivary cortisol LFIA results.

Salivary Assays

Biomarkers have made tremendous impact toward gaining insights into mechanisms for how early adversity can “get under the skin” and influence risk for development of psychopathology. Noninvasive biomarkers have been key pieces to making this feasible in developmental research as this allows for repeated measures, point-of-care assessment and stress-free measurement. Dr. Shirtcliff have been conducting this type of research since 2000 when she worked with Dr. Doug Granger to advance noninvasive biomarker methodology. The SPIT lab at Iowa State has all the facilities and equipment needed to conduct noninvasive hormone and immune biomarkers in our biosafety level II wet laboratory. Routinely, we conduct a range of hormone and immune system enzyme-immunoassays including cortisol, testosterone, DHEA, estradiol, progesterone, CRP, sIgA, IL-1beta, and IL-6. The SPIT lab functions as an educational resource at ISU through Dr. Shirtcliff’s HD FS 640/440 “biomarkers” course. The SPIT lab also operates as a fee-for-service laboratory for both internal and external customers.  For a price quote for assay services, please contact spitlab@iastate.edu.

Hair Assays

The SPIT lab also includes extraction equipment for hair or urinary assays. Noninvasive bioassay research has broadened to include hair assays to measure the stress hormone cortisol as an index of cumulative steroid exposure. Sex hormones like testosterone and DHEA can be assayed from hair but have not yet been routinely integrated into psychobiological studies. SPIT lab is one of the first to validate immune-assays for sex hormones in hair samples. The motivation is to advance developmental science towards a deeper understanding of pubertal maturation. Sex hormones are a logical target for indexing puberty given that hair changes are a hallmark of puberty and hormones influence development beyond physical signs of pubertal stage. A cumulative hormone index provided by hair is thought to average across extraneous day-to-day or moment-to-moment fluctuation to capture the steady rise in sex steroids across the pubertal transition. Hair and urine assays also are available for assay services for internal and external customers. Typically, prices are comparable to saliva with the addition of a per-sample extraction fee. For a price quote, please contact spitlab@iastate.edu.

Real-Time Assays

This laboratory also contains the innovative VerOFy® cortisol device which uses a lateral flow immunoassay (LFIA) to quantitate cortisol within 20 min of saliva collection. A project is under-way to develop real-time salivary testosterone LFIAs through an academic-industry partnership with Oasis Diagnostics®.  The VerOFy® platform consists of a three-part system including (a) Super•SAL™ saliva collection device, (b) the LFIA cartridge and (c) the LIAMTM reader. The SPIT lab is the first lab to test VerOFy® cortisol in human participants.