Saturday, 15 October 2011

Medical Breakthroughs

The United Kingdom has led the world in medical research. The doctors and scientists have made numerous important breakthroughs. Therefore the Royal Mail commemorated their  research and have selected six of the most significant from the last 120 years.The stamps issued in six single stamps with non-uniform of face value on September 16, 2010.

1st Class – Heart-regulating beta-blockers synthesised by Sir James Black, 1962.
Beta-blockers are used to treat several conditions, but are particularly useful in managing heart problems such as arrhythmia, and protecting the heart after heart attacks. Sir James Black synthesised Propranolol in 1962, the first beta-blocker, which revolutionised the medical management of hypertension and heart problems.

58p – Antibiotic properties of penicillin discovered by Sir Alexander Fleming, 1928

Scottish scientist and Nobel laureate Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin almost by accident in 1928, after a mould called Penicillium notatum invaded one of his petri dishes while he was on holiday, attacking the staphylococci cultures he had been growing. This serendipitous observation began the modern era of antibiotic discovery.

60p – Total hip replacement operation pioneered by Sir John Charnley, 1962

Sir John Charnley began his research into hip replacements in 1949 while practicing as an orthopaedic surgeon. After suffering many setbacks, Charnley finally performed the first successful hip replacement operation in 1962, which remains one of the world’s most successful surgical and radiological procedures to this day. 

67p – Artificial lens implant surgery pioneered by Sir Harold Ridley, 1949

Ridley first noticed that splinters of perspex from aircraft cockpit canopies did not trigger rejection while treating RAF pilots during World War Two. This led to him investigating the use of artificial lenses in the eye to correct cases of cataracts. He performed the first such operation in 1949, which was a complete success and has now saved the sight of tens of thousands.

88p – Malaria parasite transmitted by mosquitoes proved by Sir Ronald Ross, 1897

Until 1897, the transmission of malaria was shrouded in mystery. It was then that Ronald Ross discovered the presence of the malarial parasite within a species of mosquito called the Anopheles. He then proved the hypothesis by feeding an uninfected mosquito on a malaria patient, thus proving once and for all that measures against mosquitos needed to be taken in the tropics.

97p – Computed tomography scanner invented by Sir Godfrey Hounsfield, 1971
While on an outing in the country, Hounsfield was struck with the idea that one could determine what was inside a box by taking X-ray readings from a number of angles. He then built a prototype head scanner, testing it first on a preserved human brain, then later on himself. Since then, the CAT scanner has become an invaluable tool to Doctors worldwide.


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