Bio-science

Sir David Jack: Pioneering chemist who revolutionised the treatment of

The three great names in British drug development for the past half century had the euphonious names of Jack, Black and Vane; and while Sir David Jack was the only one not to win a Nobel Prize this was largely due to chance, as his discoveries were equal to those of Sir James Black and Sir John Vane. Jack's contribution, with his team, was to develop the first inhaled asthma medicine, salbutamol (Ventolin). It relieved the wheezing of asthma almost instantaneously by going straight to the lungs, and only atiny dose was needed as it was not dispersed around the rest of the body. Previously, patients had to take ephedrine or similar compounds, wait up to half an hour for the drug to be absorbed, and put up with several hours of the tremors and palpitations that were the inevitable side-effects.