Toronto may not be the most innovative city in the world, but it has it’s fair share of medical breakthroughs. Here are three medial discoveries that started in Toronto, and had an affect on the world….

Toronto gave the world Buckley’s cough syrup

William Knapp Buckley was a pharmacist who took over a Toronto pharmacy. Inside this pharmacy, he found all kinds of ingredients, which he mixed together to created Buckley’s Mixture. In 1920, he started selling Buckley’s Mixture….and it continues to sell to this day.

It tastes awful. And it works.

It tastes awful. And it works.
Photo credit: Buckley’s

And insulin to help diabetics around the world

The discovery of insulin started with one man’s unwavering efforts, an assistant, and 10 dogs. Dr. Frederick Banting was an unknown surgeon with a bachelor’s degree in medicine. In 1921, he asked University of Toronto professor John Macleod for help with a theory about diabetes. Macleod didn’t believe in Banting’s theory, but was nice enough to give Banting a laboratory with some equipment and 10 dogs. The lab also came with Charles Best, a medical student, who was now Banting’s assistant.
Banting, Best, and a dog

Banting, Best, and a dog
Photo credit: MaRs

Banting and Best started their experiments on the dogs, and eventually discovered insulin. Their first diabetic test subject was a 14 year old Toronto boy who went by the name of Leonard Thompson. Before receiving insulin, Leonard was close to dying, and the insulin saved his life….it has been saving lives around the world since then. The discovery of insulin was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1923. If you want to see some press coverage from that year, check out this article from Torontoist.

And hope for children with cystic fibrosis

Cystic Fibrosis is the most common fatal genetic disease affecting children in Canada. Every day, two children are diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, and one child dies from this disease daily.
Dr. Tsui (centre) with colleagues

Dr. Tsui (centre) with colleagues
Photo credit: SickKids Hospital

In 1989, Toronto doctor Lap-Chee Tsui led a team of researchers at SickKids Hospital in Toronto to discover the cystic fibrosis gene. According to Cystic Fibrosis Canada, Dr. Tsui is praised “as making one of the most significant breakthroughs in human genetics in the past 50 years. Dr. Tsui’s discovery of the CF gene improved our understanding of how the disease works; led to newborn screening for early detection of CF and carrier testing for parents; and opened the door to research targeting the root cause of the disease in hopes of finding more effective treatments and, one day, a cure.”