The Key is in the Pee

Scientists develop test to determine insulin self-production in patients with diabetes

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Scientists have developed a simple home urine test that can determine if patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are producing their own insulin.

The test developed by Professor Andrew Hattersley from Peninsula Medical School and his Exeter-based team.

Until now, diabetic patients had to go to hospitals to undergo blood tests. The new urine test can replace these hospital blood tests, allowing patients to send their urine samples through the mail. The urine tests are especially beneficial for children now that they do not have to go through blood tests.

The urine test works by measuring if diabetic patients are producing their own insulin. It can work even if a patient is taking insulin injections.

Researchers have shown that the test can tell the difference between type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and rare genetic forms of diabetes. As such, the test can offer an accurate diagnosis, leading to critical changes in treatment and, in some cases, termination of insulin treatment.

For example, a 35 year old woman named Jillian used the urine test and found that her body is still producing insulin 14 years after her diagnosis of diabetes. A subsequent DNA test confirmed that she had a genetic form of diabetes. Now, after years and years of insulin treatment, Jillian no longer has to take insulin injections.

According to Dr. Rachel Besser - who, with the help of Dr. Angus Jones, conducted studies on the urine test on more than 300 patients - the new urine test provides patients with an easy alternative to blood testing. Besser hopes that patients' ability to take the test at home will lead to increased insulin testing, and consequently more correct diagnoses and treatment.

An estimated 25.8 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. That is 8.3 percent of the American population. Of those people, 18.8 million have been diagnosed, leaving many diabetic and at-risk individuals in the dark.

The studies by Dr. Besser and Dr. Jones are published in the journals Diabetes Care and Diabetic Medicine.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 25, 2011
Last Updated:
February 28, 2011