1900 : When 25 was “Middle Age”
A child born in the United
States this year could expect to live until only 1947. With no
medications available to treat them, infectious diseases like
pneumonia, influenza and tuberculosis are leading causes of death.
1918 : Flu sweep the world
worst pandemic since the Black Death sweeps the world, killing 21
million people, more than 1% of the world's population and twice as
many people as died in WWI. The “Spanish influenza” began in Asia and
wiped out coffin supplies in many cities.
1921 : Unlocking the Mysteries of Diabates
isolate insulin, the hormone that allows sugar to enter cells, where it
is used for energy. Two years later, mass production begins, enabling
people with diabetes to prevent their blood sugar levels from rising
and slow the progression of the disease
1928 : The discovery of Pennicillin
Fleming discovers that a mold had developed on a Petri dish — and
created a bacteria-free circle. Twelve years later, other researchers
develop the penicillin mold into a new antibiotic that saves millions
of lives during WWII and beyond.
1938 : Treatment for epilepsy
first anti-epileptic drug without sedating side effects is approved.
The treatment, still widely used today, prevents intense, abnormal
bursts of electrical activity in the brain, which can lead to seizures,
enabling people with epilepsy to manage the condition.
1940 : Finding a treatment in Haystack
scientist investigating deaths among farm cows discovers that the moldy
sweet clover they've been eating contains a blood-thinning agent. It is
developed into warfarin, a life-saving medicine which helps keep blood
clots from forming, thus reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
1943 : Antibiotics from the ground up
new antibiotic derived from soil bacteria radically changes how
tuberculosis is treated. In the same year, other scientists working
with soil bacteria develop the first broad-spectrum antibiotic, for
previously untreatable diseases like typhoid fever.
1948 : An early weapon against cancer
discover that blocking folic acid shrinks tumors, leading to one of the
first chemotherapy drugs, methotrexate. The innovation continued to
bear fruit four decades later -- in 1988, the FDA approved low-dose
methotrexate to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
1950 : An anti-inflammatory for arthritis
Nobel Prize is awarded to the discoverers of cortisone, a naturally
produced steroid that suppresses inflammation. Developed two years
earlier as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, patients injected with
cortisone show remarkable improvement.
1951 : Progress against depression
oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are synthesized. Originally used for
tuberculosis, they act as powerful mood elevators -- and become one of
the first treatments for depression. They balance brain chemicals,
relieving the symptoms of depression and paving the way for today’s
1952 : Breakthrough in treating psychosis
surgeon treating surgical shock notes one drug's effect on his
patients’ mental states. Tests on psychotic patients have “miraculous”
results -- catatonic or violent patients improve so much they are able
to move from institutions to their own homes.
1953 : A secret of life is discovered
and Crick discover that DNA is structured as a double-helix that can
“unzip” to make copies of itself. This remarkable discovery changes the
way that we understand the human body and disease — and forms the basis
for modern biotechnology.
A powerful anti-leukemia drug
FDA approves mercaptopurine (6-MP) just 10 weeks after studies show it
produces remission of childhood leukemia without harming normal cells.
Still used today, this innovation transformed leukemia into a treatable
1954 : Polio : The beginning of the end
than 1.8 million “polio pioneers” get vaccinated against the virus that
two years earlier had left thousands dead or paralyzed. The next year,
the massive trial shows the vaccine to be safe and effective.
1958 : The new way to lower blood pressure
FDA approves a new class of diuretics, which remove water and sodium
from the body, relaxing blood vessel walls and lowering blood pressure.
Thiazide diruetics, introduced this year, are still used today as an
important treatment for hypertension.
1960 : Advances in mental health treatment
decade of psychiatric innovations begins with the first in an important
new class of anti-anxiety medications called benzodiazepenes. Seven
years later, a new class of anti-psychotics that includes Librium and
Valium helps treat schizophrenia and other psychoses.
1963 : Making measles history
1962, a measles epidemic afflicted 400,000 Americans. Just four years
later, the number of cases falls by 94%, to only 22,000 — thanks to a
new vaccine. The vaccine is still widely used today; only two cases
were reported in 1998.
1966 : Stopping gout where it starts
major milestone in the treatment of gout, one of the most painful of
all diseases. A new medication blocks the body's production of uric
acid, which causes gout when it builds up in the blood and leads to
intense joint pain and tissue inflammation.
1967 : Increasing heart-attack survival
first beta-blocker, a drug that reduces cardiac stress, is introduced.
By blocking nervous-system impact on the heart, the new medication
reduces blood pressure, treats several heart problems — and improves
survival rates after a heart attack.
1968 : Kidney transplants become reality
surgically possible, organ transplants didn't work because the immune
system rejected the new organs. But a new anti-rejection drug led to
the first successful kidney transplant in 1961 — and in 1968 the FDA
approved it for widespread use.
1972 : A new type of general anesthesia
major surgery without experiencing pain becomes safer with the
introduction of enflurane and, seven years later, isoflurane, two
inhalation anesthetic that have fewer side effects than earlier
options. They become the most widely used general anesthetics in the
1973 : A different type of “Pill”
effective progestin-only oral contraceptive becomes available, 13 years
after the first “pill.” Because it does not contain estrogen, it
decreases the risk of complications from estrogen and also provides
other non-contraceptive benefits.
1976 : A more selective hypertension treatment
13 years of research, a new type of hypertension drug is introduced.
Because it acts directly on blood vessels, it effectively reduces blood
pressure without the side effects of earlier drugs — and establishes a
whole new class of drugs to fight the “silent killer”.
1977 : Surgery-free ulcers treatment
for peptic ulcers, which often required surgery, changes drastically
with the discovery of a chemical that blocks the H2 receptors that
trigger gastric acid secretion. For the first time ulcers can be cured
within months — and without surgery.
1981 : New tools to fight cardiovascular disease
first ACE inhibitor, as well as the first calcium channel blockers are
introduced this year. Each provides a new mechanism for controlling
high blood pressure; together, they represent major progress in the
fight to reduce cardiovascular disease and death.
1982 : Viral Sabotage
FDA approves a new treatment for infections caused by the herpes virus.
The drug is mistaken by the virus as a compound it needs to reproduce.
This “secret agent” interrupts the viral reproductive cycle and alters
the course of infection.
1983 : Spurring innovation of rare diseases
Orphan Drug Act is passed, providing incentives to develop treatments
for rare or “orphan” diseases affecting fewer than 200,000 people
nationwide. Nearly 250 orphan drugs have been developed since, saving
an estimated 100,000 lives.
A turning point of transplantation
into an “interesting” compound isolated from a soil fungus – at first
thought to have little practical value – yields a new type of
immunosuppressant that revolutionizes organ transplants by greatly
reducing rates of rejection.
1986 : Interferons approved to treat leukemia
are proteins that protect cells from viral infections. Though
discovered in the 1950s, very little was available until genetic
engineering boosted supply in the 1980s. Just a few years later, an
interferon is approved to treat leukemia.
A new tool for kidney transplants
FDA approves monoclonal antibodies to reverse rejection of transplanted
kidneys. One of the first biotech products used as a therapeutic agent,
it helps pave the way for approval of a wide variety of biotech drugs
1987 : a breakthrough drug for depression
first in a revolutionary new class of antidepressants is approved.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which increase levels
of the important brain chemical serotonin, provide new hope for the
millions of Americans who suffer from depression, and reduce the cost
of treating the condition.
The first treatment for AIDS
years after the identification of the HIV virus, the FDA approves the
first treatment for HIV infection. Called AZT, the drug interferes
with the virus’s replication, and significantly cuts AIDS death rates.
Later, it is used to prevent mother-to-child transmission.
Hopes for Americans with high cholesterol
groundbreaking class of cholesterol-lowering drugs — statins — is
discovered. These medications dramatically lower cholesterol levels and
reduce the risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases for
millions of Americans. Today, scientists continue to research more
beneficial uses of statins.
1989 : New energy for dialysis patients
genetically engineered protein helps treat anemia — and the extreme
fatigue it can cause — in patients on dialysis. Epoetin alfa gives the
two hundred thousand Americans with kidney failure new energy so they
can resume normal activities.
1990 : “Atypical” treatment for schizophrenia
first “atypical antipsychotic” is introduced for schizophrenia. These
new drugs -- such as olanzapine, approved in 1996, after 22 years in
development -- prove more effective and have fewer side effects than
1991 : Easing the side effect of chemotherapy
researchers at different labs, working simultaneously in the 1980s,
discover how the neurotransmitter serotonin can alleviate the
debilitating side effects of chemotherapy treatment. The FDA approves
both drugs within three years of each other.
1993 : The treatment for Alzheimer’s disease
1993, there were no treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. But new drugs
introduced this year boost the brain’s supply of a key neurotransmitter
— helping improve memory and mental functioning and reducing behavioral
1994 : From tree bark to cancer treatment
— a drug derived from the bark of the Pacific Yew tree — is approved as
a treatment for breast cancer, two years after its approval for ovarian
cancer. The drug inhibits tumor growth, and is now widely used for a
variety of cancers.
1995 : Drug combinations reduce AIDS death toll
inhibitors, a new class of HIV/AIDS drugs, improve the health and life
expectancy of people with AIDS. Used in a "cocktail" with existing AIDS
therapies, protease inhibitors will help reduce AIDS deaths by 65% in
the next three years.
Two new treatments for diabetes
new classes of diabetes drugs are introduced — beginning a burst of
innovation that creates three more classes of medicines in five years.
Each class works in a different way to control blood glucose, giving
doctors and patients more treatment options and more control in
treating this increasingly common disease.
A new way to lower blood pressure
new class of medicines becomes available for the one in four American
adults with high blood pressure. By blocking the hormone that causes
blood vessels to narrow, one pill a day provides smooth, gradual,
24-hour blood pressure reduction.
1996 : Another weapon against AIDS
introduction of non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors -- the
second class of drugs that interfere with the transcriptase enzyme that
plays a key role in the life cycle of HIV. This new drug binds to the
enzyme so it can't copy itself.
Preventing river blindness
FDA approves ivermectin to treat "river blindness" -- caused by a
parasitic worm -- that threatens 85 million people in Africa and Latin
America. A single annual dose of the drug has already proven highly
effective throughout the world in a vast donation program started in
1987, helping protect the eyesight of millions.
1997 : Biotech breakthrough for cancer
FDA approves the first biotech product to treat a type of non-Hodgkins
lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system. Rituximab, based on a mouse
antibody, targets a specific cell — so it shrinks tumors with fewer
side effects than other treatments.
A major advances for Parkinson’s disease
introduction of dopamine agonists provides a new way of treating
Parkinson’s disease. The drugs mimic dopamine, which helps the brain
control movement. Another new class of dopamine-boosting drugs is
approved the next year.
1998 : Arthritis breakthroughs
one year, the FDA approves three different classes of drugs that
improve the lives of patients with rheumatoid and osteo-arthritis. As a
result, millions of people are relieved from crippling joint pain and
2000 : A new approach to treating cancer
FDA approves the first antibody-targeted chemotherapy, a new approach
to treating cancer. This leukemia treatment links a potent anti-tumor
drug with a cancer-specific antibody so it targets only cancer cells --
leaving healthy cells alone.
Showing the progression of Alzheimer's
second class of drugs for Alzheimer's disease is approved.
Cholinesterase inhibitors increase the level of the brain chemical
acetylcholine, which appears to slow mental decline in Alzheimer's
patients. A third class approved in 2003, is the first treatment for
2001 : more advances in HIV treatment
third class of HIV drugs that target the transcriptase enzyme win
approval. Nucleotide analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitors provide
HIV with “false” chemical building blocks that stop it from
multiplying, lowering the amount of virus in the body.
A life-saving leukemia treatment
FDA approves a drug that targets chronic myeloid leukemia on a
molecular level. Before, only three in ten patients survived for five
years; now, many are in remission — with few if any side effects.
Molecular targeting is the “wave of the future.”
2002 : A new class of drug pressure drugs
aldosterone receptor antagonists, which block a hormone that helps the
kidneys absorb sodium and water, are introduced. Too much absorption
can cause blood pressure to increase; blocking the hormone helps
prevent that increase.
Another way to reduce cholesterol
FDA approves cholesterol absorption inhibitors, which work in the small
intestine to keep cholesterol from entering the liver, helping remove
it from the blood. This new class of drugs can be used with statins to
reduce high cholesterol levels.
2003 : The human genome is mapped
years after the discovery of the structure of DNA, the Human Genome
Project completes the sequencing of the genetic code. The project
ushers in a new era of innovation — providing new strategies to
diagnose, treat and prevent disease
A new approach to fighting HIV
FDA approves a new class of drugs, fusion inhibitors, that stops HIV
from attaching itself to healthy cells and prevents it from
multiplying. This different approach offers new hope to people who have
developed resistance to other HIV medicines.
Today : Research holds unprecedented potential
you read this, researchers are exploring the frontiers of science to
find new medicines that will help patients still waiting for relief.
New approaches such as genomics, molecular targeting, and personalized
medicine are making the life sciences more promising than ever.
Got permission from : Great Moments in Innovationshttp://www.innovation.org/index.cfm/nonavFlash/Great_Moments_in_Innovation