Schizophrenia is a severe long-term mental health disorder that affects 20million people worldwide. It is characterised by a range of psychotic symptoms. Schizophrenia is controlled by antipsychotic drugs that suppress the effects of excess dopamine found in people with the condition. Some patients fail to respond to the initial prescribed medications. Clozapine is a widely used antipsychotic drug and is mainly administered in response to patients who show treatment-resistant schizophrenia. However, due to its serious side effect and complications it requires consistent blood test monitoring. Thus, resulting in frequent clinical check-ups and also a delay between sending blood samples for analysis and receiving the results. This makes it more difficult to manage the patients' symptoms and control the optimal dosage.
Our team and researchers at the IoPPN and the Maudsley Hospital have worked with a diagnostic testing company to develop a portable blood test device to provide a more efficient, fast and easy-to use solution. This device allows clozapine levels to be accurately measured by drawing blood from a simple fingerpick device providing results in a few minutes.
The efficacy of this device is reflected on the experience reported by the 300 patients recruited in our study as well as the clinical health carers who were immediately able to recognise and regulate the clozapine levels. This allows for effective and safe administration of the drug, consequently increasing the administration of other pharmacotherapy drugs labelled as ‘high-risk’. Thus, by evaluating our new intervention we can improve patient care by implementing these changes as part of a routine clinical care.