Major developments in 1920's medicine included Insulin and Penicillin
Many of the major developments in medicine that we take for granted today had their genesis in the 1920's increasing overall life expectancy. The list shown below of Nobel Prize Laureates and their discoveries highlights these important developments.
Throughout the 1920s, new technologies and new science led to the discovery of vitamins and to increasing knowledge of hormones and body chemistry. New drugs and new vaccines were released following research begun in the previous decade. Sulfa drugs became the first of the anti-bacterial wonder drugs saving thousands of lives from bacterial and viral infections.
In 1920 Herbert McLean Evans discovered Vitamin E, and its anti-sterility properties, and Elmer V. McCollum discovered Vitamin D, its presence in cod liver, and its ability to prevent rickets, a skeletal disorder. Vitamins A, B, C, K, and various subtypes of each were also discovered during the 1920s.
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine: Laureates 1920 - 1930
- 1930 Karl Landsteiner - "for discovery of human blood types"
- 1929 Christiaan Eijkman, Sir Frederick Hopkins - "for discovery of various vitamins"
- 1928 Charles Nicolle - "for work on typhus"
- 1927 Julius Wagner-Jauregg - "for healing general paralysis by infection with malaria"
- 1926 Johannes Fibiger - "for elucidating Spiroptera carcinoma and artificially inducing cancer in an animal."
- 1925 The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section
- 1924 Willem Einthoven - "for the discovery of the mechanism of the electrocardiogram"
- 1923 Frederick G. Banting, John Macleod - "for the discovery of insulin"
- 1922 Archibald V. Hill, Otto Meyerhof - "for research on muscles, especially their generation of heat and the relationship between oxygen consumption and lactic acid metabolism "
- 1921 The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section
- 1920 August Krogh - "for showing that the gas exchange in the lungs is ordinary diffusion"
Penicillin was originally isolated from the Penicillium chrysogenum (formerly Penicillium notatum) mould. The antibiotic effect was originally discovered by a young French medical student Ernest Duchesne studying Penicillium glaucum in 1896, but his discovery was ignored by the Institut Pasteur.
It was then rediscovered in 1928 by Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming, who noticed a halo of inhibition of bacterial growth around a contaminant blue-green mould on a Staphylococcus culture. Fleming concluded that the mould was releasing a substance that was inhibiting bacterial growth. He grew a pure culture and discovered that the fungus was Penicillium notatum — he later named the bacterial inhibiting substance penicillin after the Penicillium notatum that released it. Fleming was convinced after conducting some more experiments that penicillin could not last long enough in the human body to kill pathogenic bacteria and stopped studying penicillin after 1931. It would prove to be the discovery that changed modern medicine. In 1939, Howard Walter Florey and a team of researchers at Oxford University made significant progress in showing Penicillin's ability to kill infectious bacteria which eventually led to commercial production of penicillin.