history of the test strip

History of the Diabetes Test Strip

The world has known about diabetes for much longer than you would expect. The first mention of this disease was made by the Egyptians around 1500 BC. The Greek physician Aretaeus (130–200 CE) noted a disease with symptoms of constant thirst, excessive urination and loss of weight, and named the condition “diabetes”, meaning “flowing through”.

At first, diabetes was inspected through the patient’s urine. However, since around the 1970s, blood glucose testing has been the best way to manage your diabetes levels.

The first blood glucose test strip was invented in 1965 by a group of Ames researchers under Ernie Adams. The Dextrostix was “a paper reagent strip which used the glucose oxidase/peroxidase reaction but with an outer semipermeable membrane which trapped red blood cells but allowed soluble glucose to pass through to react with the dry reagents,” (Clin Chem). This first test strip had some obvious flaws. For example, the amount of blood required to test was 50-100 microliters of blood (10 times the amount that is needed for most modern test strips). This test strip was intended only for use by doctors.

The BM Test-Glycemie 20-800R was the next test strip that came in to play. This was invented by Boehringer Mannheim in 1982 and was the first of the Accu-Chek series. This test strip required smaller amounts of blood and could be read visually with much more stable color.

Glucostix  was created in 1986 by the same developers of the Dextrostix. Glucostix possessed additional features, such as push-button programming for preset calibration. Also, it gave good correlation and precision and was supposedly easy to use.

After these test strips, there was not much change. However, there were many more handheld blood glucose meters that were introduced to the diabetes market during the 1990s and 2000s. Instead of reading the color of a test strip, a person would draw their blood and insert it in the device (the same way it is done today).

Diabetes research has revolutionized so quickly that it is impossible to tell what could be next. With exciting inventions like the Google Diabetes Contact Lenses or the Bionic Pancreas, there is no end to what can be accomplished in the field of diabetes!

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