Historical Events

Dobson showed that the sweetness of urine is caused by sugar, which he quantified and showed to be subject to alcohol and acetate fermentation, and that its appearance in the urine is preceded and accompanied by a similar sweetness and sugar in the blood, albeit not as much as that detected in the urine.

Experiments and Observations on the Urine in Diabetes.

Matthew Dobson

"Nevertheless, it was the simple observation of Willis that gave the disease its new name “diabetes mellitus,” but it was more than a century later that his argument was substantiated by the demonstration of sugar in the blood and urine of diabetics by Robert Wyatt in 1774 and subsequently by the more thorough studies of Matthew Dobson (1732–1784), who had a fairly good of knowledge of chemistry. In 1776, Dobson showed that the sweetness of urine is caused by sugar, which he quantified and showed to be subject to alcohol and acetate fermentation, and that its appearance in the urine is preceded and accompanied by a similar sweetness and sugar in the blood, albeit not as much as that detected in the urine. Diabetes now came to be viewed as a disorder of nutrition in which sugar accumulates in the blood and is excreted in the urine. This was to launch a whole new approach for the dietary treatment of diabetics and with it a shift to the digestive organs as the site of the disease and more specifically to the absorption of “saccharine matter” in the stomach."

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