Canadian Medical Achievements that Benefited the World

As we celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary we thought it would be only just to highlight some of the major achievements and contributions which Canada has made within the world of Medicine and how these achievements and contributions have helped save or improve the lives of millions of people around the world;

1. Insulin: In 1920 Sir Frederick Banting, a Canadian Doctor discovered Insulin and this is now dubbed as one of the most important medical discoveries of the 20th century. Prior to this, Diabetes was similar to a death sentence, however thanks to Sir Banting’s discovery; Insulin is used to help the        millions of people who suffer from Diabetes around the world. Sir Banting was awarded the Noble Prize in Medicine for this discovery.

2. Pablum: During the 1930s at the height of the Great Depression three doctors based in Toronto created Pablum.  Pablum was the world’s first ready to use vitamin and mineral enriched baby cereal.  Pablum’s creation resulted in thousands of children receiving adequate nutrition throughout this era      and to this day is still noted as a ‘game changer’ in its field, as it created standards for infant nutrition.

3. Open Heart Surgery: In 1953 open heart surgery was applied on a person for the first time; this is due to the work of Dr. Wilfred Bigelow who in 1950 discovered how to reduce the body’s temperature to a certain point so that it would be safe to conduct open heart surgery.  Dr. Bigelow also worked    on the world’s first pacemaker; although it was initially the size of a microwave, it led the way to revolutionizing heart surgery and has thus improved the lives of millions of people around the world who suffer from heart disease.

4. Transplantable  Stem Cells: In 1961 two Canadian doctors; Dr. James Till and Dr. Ernest McCulloch discovered transplantable stem cells due to their creation of the first clonal method, which is used to identify stem cells.  Their discovery resulted in incredible advances taking place within stem cell    research.

5. HAART Therapy: Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) was developed by Dr. Julio Montaner and has been extremely successful in combatting HIV/AIDS.  HAART was first implemented in 1996 and involves taking three drugs daily and is used to stop HIV progressing into AIDS, while also  extending the life expectancy of patients and reducing the number of HIV related deaths.  By 2014 HAART had become so successful; it was adopted by the United Nations as part of their strategy in the battle against HIV/AIDS.

6. T-Cell Receptors: In 1984 Dr. Tak Wah Mak who has dedicated his career to cancer research discovered T-cell Receptors, their structure, function and how they’re produced.  This became a major step in Cancer Immunology so much so by 2013 he was behind the invention of a cancer ‘sharp-shooter’  drug that he hoped would hold the key to halting the growth of numerous different types of cancer.

7. Cystic Fibrosis: Cystic Fibrosis is a common genetic disease which affects both children and adults.  The genes for Cystic Fibrosis were discovered by Dr. Lap-Chee Tsui who was based in Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children.  His work on this is now known as one of the most significant breakthroughs in    human genetics.

8. Child-resistant medicine containers: Dr. Henri J. Breault is the doctor who was behind the creation of the child-resistant medicine bottles which are now seen in homes across the world. Dr. Breault was the Director of a Poison Control Centre in the hospital in which he worked. He constantly witnessed  young children getting poisoned by medicine or hazardous products and so in response to this he invented child-resistant containers.  These containers are so successful in that when they were mandated by the Canadian government and other countries around the world, incidents of children being    poisoned dropped by more than 90% within the first year.

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