Nobel Prize for scientists whose work led to Adalimumab

05 October 2018

British biochemist Sir Gregory Winter, along with American George Smith, have won the Nobel Prize Award in Chemistry - for their work in using evolution to create new antibodies.

Smith created a technique called a ‘phage display’ which is where a virus infects bacteria and genetically engineers it to produce new proteins. Winter then replicated this technique to produce new antibody proteins, which are now used in drug therapy.

This was notably used to develop adalimumab (Humira), which is a treatment option for a range of diseases which cause inflammation, including Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.


It is great to see the work of Winter and Smith receiving recognition through the prestigious Nobel Prize Award. Their research into proteins has greatly benefited patients with Crohn’s and Colitis, leading to new biologic treatment options. It is vital that research into new treatments continues, to improve the effective options available to people with Crohn’s and Colitis and ultimately find a cure.

Sarah Berry, Health Policy and Public Affairs Officer
Crohn's & Colitis UK 

Adalimumab is a biological drug made from a synthetic (man-made) antibody. It belongs to a group of medicines called ‘anti-TNF’ drugs or therapies, created using the ‘phase display’ technique.

It works by targeting a protein in the body called TNF-alpha (tumour necrosis factor-alpha). The body naturally produces TNF-alpha as part of its immune response, in order to help fight infections by temporarily causing inflammation in affected areas.

Over-production of this protein is thought to be partly responsible for the type of chronic inflammation found in the digestive system of people with Crohn's and Colitis. Adalimumab binds to the TNF-alpha and this helps to reduce the inflammation and relieve symptoms.

Find out more about Adalimumab