British physiologist Robert Edwards has won the Nobel Medicine Prize 'for the development of in vitro fertilisation,' the Nobel jury said.

The 85-year-old won the prize of 10 million Swedish crowns (€1.1m), Sweden's Karolinska Institute said.

‘His achievements have made it possible to treat infertility, a medical condition afflicting a large proportion of humanity including more than 10% of all couples worldwide,’ the institute said in a statement.

Mr Edwards began working on developing the process in the 1950s, and 'his efforts were finally crowned by success on July 25, 1978, when the world's first 'test tube baby' was born,' the prize jury said.

Since Louise Brown's birth, around 4m people have been born through IVF.

'A new field of medicine has emerged, with Robert Edwards leading the process all the way from the fundamental discoveries to the current, successful IVF therapy,' the jury said.

Mr Edwards developed his laboratory findings 'from experiment to practical medicine' with the help of British gynaecologist Patrick Steptoe, who died in 1988.

Together they established the Bourn Hall Clinic in Cambridge, the world's first centre for IVF therapy.

Today, 20% to 30% of eggs fertilised by IVF lead to the birth of a child.

'Long-term follow-up studies have shown that IVF children are as healthy as other children,' the Nobel jury said.

Medicine is traditionally the first of the Nobel prizes awarded each year.

Prizes for achievements in science, literature and peace were first awarded in 1901 in accordance with the will of dynamite inventor and businessman Alfred Nobel.