Sir James Black

Thought this was interesting from the obituary:

Meanwhile, Black had begun to investigate the possibilities of developing a similar agent to block the effects of histamine on the stomach and so reduce acid secretions which cause stomach ulcers. ICI was not interested so he resigned and took his ideas to the American pharmaceutical group Smith Kline French and worked on the proposition for nine years between 1964 and 1973.

The result – Black\’s second major discovery – was the anti-ulcer drug cimetidine. Launched in 1975 under the brand name Tagamet, cimetidine rapidly outsold propranolol and became the biggest selling prescription drug of any kind in the world, with annual sales of around $1 billion.

He went on to get the Nobel of course.

However, the Nobel was also awarded in 2005 for a cure for peptic (or gastric) ulcers.

And a very different thing it was too. Instead of alleviation of symptoms, it found the root cause and a method of clearing that up.

So, is this the first (only?) time that the Nobel has been awarded for two entirely different solutions to the same problem? Or is this quite common as science moves on?

1 thought on “Sir James Black”

  1. Since the Golden Age of drug discovery is over (at least for the time being) it may be some time until there’s another example like yours.

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