Diagnostic Test Strips
Commemoration of test strips, used by millions to help manage diseases such as diabetes as well as kidney and liver conditions.
“He [Al Free] said, ‘Well, instead of doing it that way, we could get rid of the dropper, if we just dipped the paper into the urine.’ That’s what started it.”
- Helen Murray Free, interview by James J. Bohning in Elkhart, Indiana, 14 December 1998 (Philadelphia: Chemical Heritage Foundation, Oral History Transcript #0176)
It is difficult to recall a time when doctors and patients had trouble tracking the presence of glucose – and other substances – in urine and blood. Lack of sufficient measurement tools made it difficult to manage a host of diseases, including diabetes as well as other metabolic diseases and kidney and liver conditions.
Today, self-management of these diseases is an easier process because of the development of diagnostic test strips – the so-called dip-and-read tests – by Alfred and Helen Free and their research team at Miles Laboratories.
A Miles Laboratories research team led by Alfred and Helen Free developed the first diagnostic test strip, Clinistix®, for detecting glucose in urine. Reagent-impregnated strips changed color based on the concentration of glucose. This breakthrough led to additional dip-and-read tests for proteins and other substances. Subsequently, researchers devised a method to combine several tests on one strip to provide healthcare professionals with simple, immediate tools to aid in the detection of disease. These innovations, along with instrument-based measurement of glucose in fingertip blood, provided patients with inexpensive means to aid in the management of diabetes and kidney disease, significantly improving their quality of life.
Visit National Historic Chemical Landmarks to read more about diagnostic test strips.
Excerpted with permission, National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program