Supplements and Wellness Products

Unintended consumption of hormones can impact human health.

Sex hormones (estrogens and androgens) are integral to health and well-being, playing major physiological roles in the normal functioning of the nervous system, musculoskeletal system, digestive system, cardiovascular system, immune system, and metabolism.

Consumer products can harbour androgens and estrogens, either intentionally or unintentionally.

Non-intentional contamination of products is possible through manufacturing and storage processes, contaminated raw materials, or through the use of raw materials containing phyto-androgens or phyto-estrogens that are present in many natural plants and commonly consumed foods. 

The deliberate addition of androgenic or estrogenic compounds to sports supplements is an ongoing issue for all consumers, particularly high-profile elite athletes who may unknowingly consume banned substances or designer androgens in consumer sports supplements.


The constant intake of additional androgens or estrogens can disrupt normal endocrine balance in the body.

The unknown ingestion of anabolic-androgenic steroids can result in a number of serious health outcomes or adverse drug-drug interactions, and impact a number of vital organ systems, including the liver (cholestasis), kidneys (renal failure) circulatory system (hypertension, polycythemia), skin (acne), and can result in psychological dependence. Ingestion by women can lead to disrupted menses, develop characteristics associated with male hormones, alopecia, among other severe consequences.

The increasing use of unregulated dietary supplements put athletes at a continued risk of those adverse medical events and can also result in competition bans for illegal substance use.

The ingestion of estrogen-mimicking molecules can lead to an estrogen dominance state in a female. This can impact normal female hormone signaling as well as impact those on medications to control estrogen levels in the body.


Testing of sports supplements for androgen presence is of increasing importance.

A growing awareness of steroid contamination by consumers at all levels of sport has increased the need for mitigation strategies from manufacturers, including producing third-party certified products. Third-party testing often relies on known chemistry to identify individual substances.

The dietary supplement industry in the USA is a USD38.8 billion industry, with more than 85,000 supplements marketed as of 2015. The use of dietary supplements is up to 94% among elite athletes, and up to 53% of American adults.


Synthetic biology can allow rapid and cost-effective screening for hormone bioactivity in any supplement or wellness product.

InsituGen has developed a rapid and cost-effective test to report on total estrogenic and androgenic activity in supplements and wellness products. InsituGen’s bioassay technology can provide manufacturers and consumers with an assurance that processes and products are free of active estrogenic- and androgenic- compounds.

InsituGen’s bioassay technology combines the biological power of traditional bioassays with the speed and polish of synthetic biology, and revolutionises the detection of any androgenic or estrogenic compound following a simple extraction process of sports supplements or wellness products. The technology can detect any androgen and estrogen compound, including designer steroids that are hard to detect by current chemical analysis measures.

InsituGen’s technology permits manufacturers an additional measure of quality control, including the ability to screen each batch of a product for unintentional contamination resulting from production processes or contaminated supplier raw material. Manufacturers can include the firstFlagX logo on products to increase trust in processes and ingredients being free of active androgenic compounds.


Learn about other applications

Detection of designer steroids in racing horses and camels

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Wellness testing in companion animals

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Monitoring environmental steroid hormone contamination

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