British scientist Robert Edwards, whose work led to to the birth of the world’s first ‘test-tube baby’, has won this year’s Noble Prize for Medicine.
That baby was born in 1978: Louise Brown
His in-vitro fertilisation techniques have been used in four million births since.
The prize was announced by Sweden’s Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, which praised Edwards for what it called a “milestone in modern medicine.”
Edwards began his research in the 1950s amid protests from the church, governments and the media.
He believed fertilisation outside the body could represent a possible treatment of infertility.
Studies with animals had shown egg cells could be fertilised in test tubes when sperm was added, giving rise to offspring.
The procedure failed on a number of attempts but the first succesful IVF birth came in 1978.
Edwards developed the technique with his late colleague Patrick Steptoe, a gynecologist who died in 1988.