Inventions Leading to the Development of the Diagnostic Test Kit Industry – From the Modern Pregnancy Test to the Sandwich Assays

  • Leif Wide Department of Medical Sciences, Clinical Chemistry, Uppsala University, Uppsala and the Academic Laboratory, Department of Clinical Chemistry and Pharmacology, University Hospital, 751 85 Uppsala, Sweden


The universities are encouraged by the government nowadays to stimulate innovations and also to provide the proper machinery for assisting the protection and commercialisation of innovations. Abetter understanding of the innovation process may help to create an atmosphere suitable for inventions at the university. Examples can be taken from successful innovations previously made at the university.

During the 1960's I made a series of inventions, which ultimately led to the development of the diagnostic test kit industry. The first, which I made as an undergraduate, was a simple and reliable test kit for diagnosis of pregnancy. This was followed by the solid phase radioimmunoassay and a solid phase assay for vitamin B12; next, the dual specific non-competitive sandwich assay and the in-vitro test for diagnosis of allergy, called RAST (Radioallergosorbent test). Organon in Holland with the pregnancy test kit, and Pharmacia in Sweden with test kits for radioimmunoassay, became pioneers among the diagnostic test kit industries. Pharmacia Diagnostics later became one of the leading diagnostic test kit companies in the world and has continued to be so in the field of allergy diagnosis.

Each one of these inventions started with a few unique observations leading to a technical development. The pregnancy test as well as the allergy test emerged from the development of assay methods with unique qualities with the subsequent search for appropriate applications. The foreseeing of a commercial value on a future market was a very important step. This was followed by the search for a suitable industry interested to exploit the invention with its new business opportunity i.e. apply for a patent, produce and market the products, which in my case consisted of the necessary reagents and equipments for particular diagnostic tests. Finally, an agreement had to be settled between the entrepreneur and the inventors. This report describes these inventions and particularly discusses some crucial steps of the innovation processes.


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How to Cite
Wide L. (2009). Inventions Leading to the Development of the Diagnostic Test Kit Industry – From the Modern Pregnancy Test to the Sandwich Assays. Upsala Journal of Medical Sciences, 110(3), 193–216.
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