Thursday, February 07, 2008

I Wonder Why There Are Conspiracy Theories About Universal Health Care?

A misconception about Universal Health Care is that it inhibits spending on research. Below are just SOME of the innovations and medical discoveries Canada has performed and contributed to medical health and research. I've kept the list of discoveries from AFTER Universal Health Care was legislated.

(opponents of Canada's health care services also perpetrate runours about "waiting times". Studies and stats on patient waiting times do not differentiate between emergency or critical care waits and "elective" or non-emergency waits. Canada puts non-emergency surgery on minor waiting lists depending on prioroty.)

In fact, considering our small population Canada has produced a disproportionately large number of major biomedical breakthroughs, and a new report exhaustively catalogues the best of the best. (thanks to this blog for some of the list)

1948 First 25 million electron-volt beta-tron to be established in any university or hospital — calibration takes nine months. The electron-volt beta-tron is used for cancer research and to improve treatment accuracy. (Saskatoon Health Region — Saskatoon, Saskatchewan)

1950 Introduction of lumpectomy for treatment of breast cancer. Lumpectomy is a surgical procedure designed to remove a discrete lump (usually a tumour, benign or otherwise) from an affected woman or man’s breast. (University Health Network — Toronto, Ontario)

1950 Use of total body cooling as a method of making heart surgery safer. (University Health Network — Toronto, Ontario)

1950 First neuro-surgical treatment of epilepsy performed. (McGill University Health Centre Research Institute — Montreal, Quebec)

1951 First use worldwide of calibrated cobalt-60 for cancer radiotherapy treatment. (Saskatoon Health Region — Saskatoon, Saskatchewan)

1951 First “cobalt bomb” in the world used to deliver radiation therapy to cancer patients. (Lawson Health Research Institute — London, Ontario)

1952 First use of a device that determines whether or not a patient’s thyroid is cancerous through the use of radioactive iodine. (Saskatoon Health Region — Saskatoon, Saskatchewan)

1956 Major breakthrough in virology by discovering that positive strand Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) could be infectious. (Capital Health/University of Alberta — Edmonton, Alberta)

1957 Invention of the artificial cell for application in medicine and biotechnology. It was thought that artificial cells could one day be used as a partial substitute for human cells and organs. (McGill University Health Centre Research Institute — Montreal, Quebec)

1958 World first surgical treatment on cerebral aneurysms. (Lawson Health Research Institute — London, Ontario)

1960 Implementation of genetic screening programs for hereditary metabolic diseases in newborns. (McGill University Health Centre Research Institute — Montreal, Quebec)

1960 First implanted mammary artery into the heart wall in order to restore functionality of the heart. (McGill University Health Centre Research Institute — Montreal, Quebec)

1961 Discovery of blood-forming stem cells enabling bone marrow transplants. (University Health Network — Toronto, Ontario)

1963 The first widely successful surgery to correct the birth defect known as “Blue Babies” is performed. Before this procedure, this condition used to kill 9 out of 10 patients in their first year. (The Hospital for Sick Children — Toronto, Ontario)

1965 First artificial knee joint in the world created. (McGill University Health Centre Research Institute — Montreal, Quebec)

1969 Discovery of a carcino-embryonic antigen, a tumour marker for cancer. (McGill University Health Centre Research Institute — Montreal, Quebec)

1970 Discovery that hereditary metabolic diseases could be treated with vitamins. (McGill University Health Centre Research Institute — Montreal, Quebec)

1971 Developed the world’s first paediatric electric prosthetic arm. (Bloorview Kids Rehab – Toronto, Ontario)

1975 Development of software used worldwide for 20 years to control radiation therapy. (University Health Network—Toronto, Ontario)

1976 Identification of P-glycoprotein as a major cause of cancer drug resistance. (University Health Network — Toronto, Ontario)

1978 Developed the internationally-recognized AeroChamber, a medical device used to administer aerosolized medication for patients with asthma. This device continues to be used in practice around the world. (St. Joseph’s Healthcare – Hamilton, Ontario)

1979 Invention of a radically different ventilator (now used worldwide) that gently “shakes” oxygen into the lungs of children with severe lung disease, sparing many of them painful lung bypass procedures. (The Hospital for Sick Children — Toronto, Ontario)

1979 Development of “Continuous Passive Motion” (CPM), a revolutionary treatment for injured or diseased joints. Before this treatment, patients with damaged cartilage had to be totally immobilized. CPM is such an improvement that it is now being used in 17,500 hospitals in more than 77 countries worldwide. (The Hospital for Sick Children — Toronto, Ontario)

1980 Initial studies using real time ultrasounds and detailing biological factors affecting human fetal behavioral activity and breathing movements. (Lawson Health Research Institute — London, Ontario)

1981 World-first heart operation to correct a life-threatening heart condition known as right ventricular dysphasia. (Lawson Health Research Institute — London, Ontario)

1983 Successful single lung transplant. Lung transplants extend life expectancy and enhance the quality of life for end-stage pulmonary patients. (University Health Network — Toronto, Ontario)

1983 The Department of Nuclear Medicine becomes first to use a special imaging agent to diagnose Parkinson’s disease. Called [18] F6-fluorodopa PET, the chemical was produced by Hamilton Health Sciences and is now used worldwide. (Hamilton Health Sciences/McMaster University – Hamilton, Ontario)

1984 Discovery and cloning of the T-Cell receptor genes, significant in the field of immunology. (University Health Network — Toronto, Ontario)

1986 Discovery of the SH2 domain, which controls the ability of proteins to interact with other SH2 containing proteins and thereby direct the function of enzymes involved in transmitting cellular signals. This finding has revolutionized our understanding of how proteins form, signaling pathways inside cells. It is already informing research to control these pathways in diseased cells — the basis for novel therapies. (Mount Sinai Hospital — Toronto, Ontario)

1986 Developed first predictive testing for late onset genetic diseases (Huntington Disease). (Provincial Health Services Authority – Vancouver, British Columbia)

1987 First aortic valve replacement in the world using the Toronto Heart Valve, which is now used worldwide. (University Health Network — Toronto, Ontario)

1987 World’s first pacemaker cardioverter defibrillator is implanted. (Lawson Health Research Institute — London, Ontario)

1988 Researchers solve the structure of rennin, a key enzyme in the kidney that plays a role in the development of high blood pressure. (Capital Health/University of Alberta — Edmonton, Alberta)

1988 World’s first successful liver/small bowel transplant is performed. (Lawson Health Research Institute — London, Ontario)

1989 Researchers develop sputum induction techniques and sputum cell analysis. Research on nasal mucosa suggested ways in which the cellular response to antigen challenge might be studied in bronchial mucosa and sputum. (Firestone Institute for Respiratory at St. Joseph’s Healthcare – Hamilton, Ontario)

1989 Development of the first oral treatment for hepatitis B, resulting in the drug Lamivudine. (Capital Health/University of Alberta — Edmonton, Alberta)

1989 Discovery of the gene which, when defective, causes cystic fibrosis, the most fatal genetic disease of Canadian children today. (The Hospital for Sick Children — Toronto, Ontario)

1990 First measure of neurotransmitter concentration in schizophrenics by Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS). MRS allows scientists and doctors to measure chemicals within the body and brain without removing tissue or blood samples and without using dangerous radioactive “tracers.” It is therefore safe and can be used repeatedly on the patient without any ill effects. (Lawson Health Research Institute — London, Ontario)

1991 Publication of the first paper demonstrating that treatment of obstructive sleep apnea by nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) in patients with congestive heart failure improves cardiac function and symptoms of heart failure. This discovery has major implications because it suggests that obstructive sleep apnea contributes to the development and progression of congestive heart failure. (Toronto Rehabilitation Institute — Toronto, Ontario)

1992 Discovery of the first gene responsible for Fanconi anemia. Fanconi anemia (FA) is a rare genetic disease that affects children and adults from all ethnic backgrounds. FA is characterized by short stature, skeletal anomalies, increased incidence of solid tumors and leukemias, bone marrow failure (aplastic anemia), and cellular sensitivity to DNA-damaging agents such as mitomycin C. (Hospital for Sick Children — Toronto, Ontario)

1993 Researchers demonstrate that mouse embryonic stem cells are capable of supporting the entire embryonic development and in fact creating completely cell cultured derived mice. (Mount Sinai Hospital — Toronto, Ontario)

1993 Discovery of a novel gene associated with Lou-Gehrig’s disease. (McGill University Health Centre Research Institute — Montreal, Quebec)

1994 World’s first three-dimensional (3-D) ultrasound-guided cryosurgery. (Lawson Health Research Institute – London, Ontario)

1994 Solved the 30-year old puzzle of why so many people suffer an allergic reaction when they receive a blood transfusion. (Hamilton Health Sciences/McMaster University – Hamilton, Ontario)

1995 First physical map of the human genome created. (McGill University Health Centre Research Institute — Montreal, Quebec)

1995 Discovery of the gene associated with localized muscular dystrophy. (McGill University Health Centre Research Institute — Montreal, Quebec)

1996 Identification of a human blood cell that regenerates the entire blood system. This discovery enabled the development of new treatments for blood diseases such as leukemia, thalassemia and sickle cell anemia. (Hospital for Sick Children — Toronto, Ontario)

1996 Identification of a gene that causes colon cancer. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among Canadians. (Hospital for Sick Children — Toronto, Ontario)

1998 Developed the first trophoblast stem cells – the precursors of cells that form the placenta. Since the placenta is critical for a successful pregnancy, this discovery will have a major impact on research to understand and ultimately prevent pregnancy complications resulting from a failure in normal placental function. (Mount Sinai Hospital — Toronto, Ontario)

1998 Discovery of the first gene that causes Lafora disease, one of the most severe forms of teenageonset epilepsy. (Hospital for Sick Children — Toronto, Ontario)

1999 First islet transplant under the Edmonton protocol for Type I diabetes. Islet transplantation had been performed under other protocols; however, the Edmonton protocol produced unprecedented levels of success in the field of islet transplantation. (Capital Health/University of Alberta — Edmonton, Alberta)

1999 World’s first closed chest robotic-assisted beating heart coronary artery bypass graft conducted. (Lawson Health Research Institute — London, Ontario)

1999 Identification of ABCA-1 gene – key regulator of HDL concentrations in humans. (Provincial Health Services Authority/BC Children’s Hospital – Vancouver, British Columbia)

2000 Discovery of the mechanism of formation of amyloid, the basis of Alzheimer’s and other diseases, and the subsequent development of drugs to treat this. (Kingston General Hospital — Kingston, Ontario)

2001 Discovery of a clinical rule that may reduce use of unnecessary x-rays for low-risk neck injuries and could aid in reducing use of imaging tests in alert and stable patients. (Ottawa Health Research Institute — Ottawa, Ontario)

2001 Development of the first animal model for Hepatitis C in mice, using transplanted human cells, providing a convenient way to test new treatments for Hepatitis C. (Capital Health/University of Alberta — Edmonton, Alberta)

2001 Tissue factor is a cell surface membrane protein involved in the initiation of blood clotting. Overexpression or increased activation of tissue factor can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. The research group demonstrated that overexpression of GRP78 (a protein), can block the coagulant activity of tissue factor in human cells. These studies are important because they have identified a relevant cellular factor that can mediate tissue factor activity. (Hamilton Health Sciences Centre — Hamilton, Ontario)

2001 Identified the emerging role that albuminuria as an important risk factor for both kidney and heart disease. (Hamilton Health Sciences/McMaster University – Hamilton, Ontario)

2002 Introduction of revolutionary medication doses for depression and schizophrenia through positron emission tomography (PET) technology. (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health — Toronto, Ontario)

2002 Creation of a simple system to generate T-cells in a Petri dish. T-cells are a vital component of the immune system that orchestrate, regulate and coordinate the overall immune response. This discovery provided a method to create model systems to study the genetics and molecular biology of T-cell development and points to future clinical therapies for people whose immune systems have been destroyed, for example, by HIV or toxic cancer therapies. (Sunnybrook & Women’s Research Institute — Toronto, Ontario)

2002 Discovery that a type of self-destructing “suicide cell” activity, previously believed to only be detrimental, is in fact necessary for the proper formation of muscle tissue. (Ottawa Health Research Institute — Ottawa, Ontario)

2002 Pioneered the use of Botulinum Toxin A to reduce upper limb spasticity in children with cerebral palsy. (Bloorview Kids Rehab – Toronto, Ontario)

2003 Discovery of a molecular marker to diagnose hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common type of liver cancer. HCC is usually asymptomatic at early stages, and has great propensity for invasion, making it difficult to treat. A test was developed for the early diagnosis of HCC, which could also be useful for the screening of individuals that are at high risk for developing this disease, such as people chronically infected with Hepatitis B and C. (Sunnybrook & Women’s Research Institute — Toronto, Ontario)

2003 Researchers discover a way to make the immune system specifically recognize infectious prions, proteins that cause brain-wasting diseases like mad cow disease and Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, its human equivalent. This discovery paves the way for the development of diagnostic tools, immunotherapy and a vaccine. (Sunnybrook & Women’s Research Institute — Toronto, Ontario)

2003 Major international clinical trial provides first alternative treatment to taxol for preventing breast cancer recurrence in survivors five years post diagnosis. (University Health Network — Toronto, Ontario)

2003 Compilation of the complete DNA sequence of chromosome 7. Researchers decode nearly all of the genes on this medically important portion of the human genome. Chromosome 7 contains 1,455 genes, some of which, when altered, cause diseases such as cystic fibrosis, leukemia and autism. (Hospital for Sick Children — Toronto, Ontario)

2003 Study makes it easier to identify patients with deep vein thrombosis (DVT), providing faster diagnosis and significant savings to the health care system. (Ottawa Health Research Institute — Ottawa, Ontario)

2003 Performed the world’s first deep brain stimulation for depression, causing depression that was previously treatment-resistant to go into remission. (University Health Network — Toronto, Ontario)

2003 Identification of a cancer stem cell responsible for brain tumors. This discovery may change how this deadly condition is studied and treated in the future. (Hospital for Sick Children — Toronto, Ontario)

2003 Linkage of maternal folic acid intake to a decrease in neuroblastoma, a deadly childhood cancer. (Hospital for Sick Children — Toronto, Ontario)

2003 Performed the world’s first hospital-to-hospital telerobotic assisted surgery on a patient more than 400 kilometres away. During the procedure, they completed a Nissen Fundoplication on a 66-year old patient located at North Bay General Hospital from St. Joseph’s telerobotics suite in Hamilton, Ontario. (St. Joseph’s Healthcare – Hamilton, Ontario).

2003 Developed a genetically modified vaccine that can completely prevent the recurrence of metastatic breast cancer through genetically altered cells that only destroy cancer cells. (Hamilton Health Sciences/McMaster University – Hamilton, Ontario)

2003 Developed first draft DNA sequence for coronavirus implicated as cause of SARS (Provincial Health Services Authority/BC Cancer Agency, Genome Sciences Centre – Vancouver, British Columbia)

2003 Found that the vast majority of heart attacks can be predicted by nine easily measurable factors that are the same in virtually every region and ethnic group worldwide. (Hamilton Health Sciences/McMaster University – Hamilton, Ontario)

2004 Performed the world’s first simulated underwater surgery during the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operation (NEEMO 7). During the 10-day NEEMO 7 Mission, they successfully telementored the NEEMO7 crew through various surgical simulations from their base in the underwater Aquarius habitat located 19 metres below the surface off the coast of Key largo, Florida. (St. Joseph’s Healthcare – Hamilton, Ontario)

2004 Development of StemBase, a database of gene expression data from DNA micro array experiments on samples from human and mouse stem cells and their derivatives. This growing resource is used to find genes whose activity is related to stem cells. (Ottawa Health Research Institute — Ottawa, Ontario)

2004 Discovery of the apelin receptor and design of an analogue that can interfere with and block the actions of apelin, in order to decipher its role in the brain. (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health — Toronto, Ontario)

2004 Discovery of over 70 novel human receptor genes; many of which, together with their chemical activators, mediate unique functions in the brain and are being targeted for drug design. (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health — Toronto, Ontario)

2004 In the first large, multi-centre clinical trial of its kind, researchers provided evidence to suggest that artery grafts from the forearm should be used in place of vein grafts from the leg in heart bypass surgery because radial arteries have significantly higher graft patency over one year. Graft patency, a measure of whether the bypass remains open enough to permit efficient blood flow, is critical to success after surgery. (Sunnybrook & Women’s Research Institute — Toronto, Ontario)

2004 A research team finds magnetic resonance imaging detects more breast cancer tumors, earlier, compared with mammography, ultrasound or clinical examination in women with the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. This finding offers hope to genetically at-risk women, and gives them an alternative to removing both breasts. (Sunnybrook & Women’s Research Institute — Toronto, Ontario)

2004 World’s first use of beads of palladium, a low-dose radioactive material, to treat women with breast cancer on an outpatient basis. This therapy holds the promise of eliminating anguishing side effects and considerably enhancing the women’s quality of life. (Sunnybrook & Women’s Research Institute — Toronto, Ontario)

2004 Demonstration of an association between pediatric multiple sclerosis (MS) and the Epstein-Barr virus, indicating that exposure to the virus at a certain time in childhood may be an important environmental trigger for the development of MS. (Hospital for Sick Children — Toronto, Ontario)

2004 Developed a virtual instrument that allows children with physical disabilities to make music (both therapeutic and recreational applications of the software – which is licensed in 7 countries around the world). (Bloorview Kids Rehab – Toronto, Ontario)

2005 Developed the world’s first upper respiratory viral panel test that can accurately identify all respiratory viruses including various flu strains including H5N1 and the SARS Coronavirus. (St. Joseph’s Healthcare – Hamilton, Ontario)

2005 In the first trial of its kind in the world, researchers begin treating prostate cancer using a 3-D image-guided radiation therapy device that was developed in Canada. This non-surgical technique allows oncologists to visualize the exact position of the target and deliver precise external beam radiation therapy. (Sunnybrook & Women’s Research Institute — Toronto, Ontario)

2005 Key discovery in Type-1 Diabetes proves the repair process is present within the pancreas during disease development. Understanding the repair process could be the key to successful treatment. (Ottawa Health Research Institute — Ottawa, Ontario)

2005 Study determines that a specific enzyme, known as pro-protein convertase 4 (PC4) may be responsible for fetal growth restriction, the second leading cause of infant mortality in the developed world. Knowledge may lead to screening for the defective enzyme early in the pregnancy and provide the ability to monitor the pregnancy more closely. (Ottawa Health Research Institute — Ottawa, Ontario)

2005 Scientists show that early surgical removal of the spleen combined with antiangiogenic therapy, which arrests the growth of tumour-feeding blood vessels, may stop the progression of leukemia. (Sunnybrook & Women’s Research Institute — Toronto, Ontario)

2005 Using neuropsychological testing, researchers accurately predict which study participants will develop Alzheimer’s disease within five and 10 years. Previous studies were able to predict Alzheimer’s only for shorter periods of time; other studies showed predictions for 10 and even 15 years, but these did not indicate the predictive accuracy of the tests. (Sunnybrook & Women’s Research Institute — Toronto, Ontario)

2005 Identified novel mutations in the gene that causes Rett Syndrome. The discovery is now licenced as a test for the disorder and is available to the public. (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health — Toronto, Ontario)

2005 Initiation of first human clinical gene therapy trials for lipoprotein lipase deficiency. (Provincial Health Services Authority/BC Children’s Hospital – Vancouver, British Columbia)

2006 Discovery of the precise molecular chain of events that initiates the wide-scale immune destruction of “super bug” infections such as flesh-eating disease, toxic shock syndrome and severe food poisoning. (Robarts Research Institute — London, Ontario)

2006 Implantation of an antibody-coated stent into the first human patient. The invention of the antibody-coated stent reduces restenosis and prevents blood clots from occurring. (St. Michael’s Hospital — Toronto, Ontario)

2006 World’s first clinical trial to combine gene and cell therapy to treat a cardiovascular disorder. The PHACeT (Pulmonary Hypertension: Assessment of Cell Therapy) trial will assess the use of adult stem-like cells called endothelial progenitor cells (EPC) for the treatment of pulmonary hypertension. (St. Michael’s Hospital — Toronto, Ontario)

2006 First demonstration that children with cystic fibrosis have choline deficiency. Provision of choline improves redox balance and methyl transfer capacity in humans. (Provincial Health Services Authority/BC Children’s Hospital – Vancouver, British Columbia)

2006 First demonstration that dietary omega-3 fatty acid deficiency impairs neurogenesis in vivo (Provincial Health Services Authority/BC Children’s Hospital – Vancouver, British Columbia)

2006 First curative therapy for Huntington Disease in a mouse model (Provincial Health Services Authority/BC Children’s Hospital, Vancouver, British Columbia)


Gardenia said...

I am impressed. THANK YOU! I wish we could send to every voter in the U.S. Is the wool being pulled over our eyes, or what? Speaking generally of U.S. Citizens.

I think a movie came out about the surgeons who invented the surgery to help blue babies - it was a fabulous movie!

ALS Grumpy said...


Obviously few south of the border is aware of nor willing to admit that it all isn't done first here. lol

Yours is an impressive list, and for those of with MND or ALS I hope the Canadian healthcare system finds the cause and cure for this disease.

Red said...

This is a pretty impressive list!

Universal health care is a somewhat flawed system, no doubt (at least here in the UK), but it's still the best system we've come up with, and I wouldn't want it any other way.

Anonymous said...

and in 1986 Toronto General Hospital (now University Health Network) did the first successful double lung transplant and the recipient lived l5 years! I am amazed at the skill of these docs. I have pulmonary hypertension and Ontario is a great place to live if one has to have that. I can't rant enough about how generous our system has been to me. Thank you for presenting the proof for universal health care so convincingly.

L.M. said...

Holy shit, Candy, you even included the Cobalt "Cancer Bomb". Speaking of which, two brothers successfully treated for cancer and one 82 year old mother who recovered fully from a broken neck this past year. (without depleting their life savings or fighting with HMO's)

I wasn't aware that research was one of the bullshit excuses right wingers use. I still continually read that crap in some U.S. publications about not being able to choose your own doctor. Where do they get this shit from?

Candy Minx said...

Well, I am pleased that a couple people had time to read this post...I realize it was over the top long...

The list of "innovations and discoveries" is not even's an excerpt from the study!!!

I think what happens in controversial public issues is that it's very difficult for people to find research...and to take the time to share info.

The rumours surrounding profits, canadians going to america for treatment and waiting times are modern urban myths.

Although there are some cases of people waiting a long time for treatment in is for "elective surgery" and non-emergency surgery.

if someone needs an mri...or emergency treatment...ta da! No prob.

We don't really look highly on "elective surgery" in Canada...its a very different mindset about non-emergency surgeries...we don't really "do" them...and I think a waiting list for a nose job or breast implants is civilized.

Let people who are seriously in need of treatment go first duh.

But..w.e must never assume thatthe suystem is perfect either.

i believe a continued dedication to providing more and more funds for research and hospitals and home care is needed. I wory about people just assumingthat our system is "good enough"...

We need to continue to have ample spending so that...breakdowns with service like in Britain do not occur.

What I understand is that Britain does not supply enoigh funding to clean up hospitals and keep waiting lists down for emergency service...although i am not entirely sure of all the details.

This link is valuable because it deals with the modern urban myths of Canadians running to U.S. for treatments...when actually the stas are including people who live in Florida for five months a year or are travelling and need emergency care...

Bridget Jones said...

CM, the Canadian health system is fantastic, I have to admit. It's saved many of my friends' lives.