ELION, Gertrude (Belle), American biochemist, 1918-1999. A research scientist at the Burroughs Wellcome Labs from 1944. The drug 6-MP was synthesised by her in 1950. This drug (6-mercaptopurine, Imuran), also known as allopurinol, aided successful organ transplantation, especially in kidneys. It stopped kidney blockage in cancer patients on chemotherapy and radiotherapy, it was also the drug of choice in gout. From 1967 she was the Director of Experimental Therapy. Gertrude was awarded the Garvan Medal in 1968. Then, in 1974, she created the drug aciclovir for treatment of Herpes virus infection. The antileukaemic drug, (6-MP), as used in chemotherapy, had by then turned out to be very important. Her work over 30 years resulted in the creation of a great many valuable new drugs. Finally in 1983, her group produced the drug AZT (azidothymidine) designed to treat AIDS, this success came within the first year of her retirement. Gertrude was awarded the 1988 Nobel Prize in Medicine for her work on vital new drugs. Her election into the Inventors Hall of Fame (HOF) in 1991 was for creating DNA-blocking drugs for anti-Cancer treatment, She was the first of only four women in (HOF). Elected a member of the NAS in 1991 and also awarded the National Medal of Science. Gertrude is named on 45 new drug patents.
Biochemist & Inventor
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