This article was originally written and submitted as part of a Canada 150 Project, the Innovation Storybook, to crowdsource stories of Canadian innovation with partners across Canada. The content has since been migrated to Ingenium’s Channel, a digital hub featuring curated content related to science, technology and innovation.
Premature babies often suffer from respiratory distress. Fred Possmayer of Western University, and Goran Enhorning of the University of Toronto, developed techniques to isolate, purify and sterilize lung surfactant — a substance that allows lungs to expand and breathe — so that it could be used clinically. This preparation, using surfactant extracted from cows’ lungs, is known as bovine lipid extract surfactant. One version of such surfactant, BLES®, is made in London and used by nearly all neonatal intensive care units in Canada and in many other countries. This research has saved the lives of premature babies around the world.