1989 Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award

RU486, the anti-pregnancy pill

Dr. Baulieu has made major contributions to aspects of our knowledge of steroid hormones. These natural messenger molecules regulate many events of reproductive life, general metabolism and responses to stress.

Since 1959, Dr. Baulieu and his colleagues have studied a number of critical features of steroid hormone synthesis and metabolism. These include the production of these molecules in the brain, the formation of a sulfated steroid in the adrenal glands and the transport protein of sex steroids in plasma. He performed early research on receptors for estrogen, progesterone, and several other important steroid hormones, and clarified mechanisms by which these receptor nuclear proteins mediate hormone action at the DNA level.

Dr. Baulieu also developed the antiprogesterone steroid analog RU 486 which binds with high affinity to the progesterone receptor. This drug may be used to treat progesterone-dependent tumors and endometriosis, and to reduce the need for caesarean sections by facilitating difficult deliveries. Furthermore, clinical studies involving thousands of women have shown that RU 486 is a safe, effective means of preventing a fertilized ovum from producing a pregnancy. In developing RU 486, Dr. Baulieu has provided a medical model for new compounds to address other conditions related to steroid hormones.

To Dr. Etienne-Emile Baulieu, for his contributions to the broad field of steroid hormone biosynthesis, metabolism, and receptors, and for developing the first safe, effective contragestive medication, this 1989 Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award is given.