A team of researchers at the University of Surrey have developed wearable sensors capable of safely monitoring lithium levels in patients with bipolar disorder.
Lithium, a mood stabilizer, is generally prescribed as a first-line drug treatment in treating acute and long-term mania. At the start of treatment, serum levels are carefully monitored nearly a week after the first dose. Thereafter, monitoring narrows to monthly tests. A common risk for consumers is toxicity, which occurs when serum levels of lithium reach higher than 1.5 mEq/L.
These fiber-based sensors, considered to be the first of its kind ever produced, are proven to quickly and accurately measure both toxic and therapeutic concentrations of lithium, despite any high concentrations of sodium in the blood.
Moreover, the new sensors are distinguishable from others currently available on the market as they do not require pre-conditioning in solution for hours beforehand or on a daily basis.
“We believe that our new sensors will help many people across the world living with mood disorders, such as bipolar and depression. Our sensors will give those who are receiving treatment the opportunity to monitor their lithium levels with a stable and easy to use wearable sensor,” said Dr. Carol Crean, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Surrey.
“They will give people a real alternative to the currently available invasive blood samples, making monitoring their lithium levels as easy as putting on a t-shirt.”
The findings were published in the journal ACS Sensors.