Lithium blood test for patients with bipolar disorder in developing countries



Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder where affected individuals alternate between manic and depressive episodes. The most commonly used medication to help such people prevent future episodes is lithium, taken orally. In order to calibrate the proper dose of medication for each patient, it is important to frequently measure the blood concentration levels of lithium, especially at the start of treatment.


The main reson for this is that lithium actually has toxic effects if the blood concentration levels exceed 1.5 mmol/L. Symptoms include nausea, dizziness and motor impairment. However, in order for the medication to be effective, concentrations of 0.6 – 1.2 mmol/L are required.


In developed countries, hospitals and doctor’s offices have access to high-cost lab equipment that can measure the blood levels of a variety of electrolytes including lithium. In developing countries however, the investment and maintenance cost of such devices is too high, resulting in little use of lithium for medical purposes.

To solve this problem, our goal is to design an inexpensive, robust and easily reproducible device to measure the lithium concentration in blood of patients with bipolar disorder.


  • Nicolas Niessen
  • Susanne Meyer
  • Lucas Mair
  • Teodora Raicevic
  • Wolfgang Krahl

Our project team consists of four students from MedTech One World Students e.V. as well as psychiatrist Dr. med. Krahl, an expert in global health.

Author: Lucas Mair