STOCKHOLM -- Swedish Nobel laureate Sune Bergstrom, who shared the 1982 medicine award for research that led to advances in birth control and new treatments for ulcers and menstrual pain, died Sunday after fighting a long battle with an undisclosed disease. He was 88.
Dr. Bergstrom received the Nobel Prize in medicine for a crucial breakthrough in prostaglandin research made in the 1950s, according to the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute.
He shared the prize with one of his students, Bengt Samuelsson, and Britain's John Vane.
Prostaglandin, a hormone, was discovered early in the 20th century but its nature was unknown until research by Dr. Bergstrom, who is called the father of prostaglandins.
The substance, named after its original discovery in the prostate gland, can have both positive and negative effects. It affects virtually every system in the human body.
Prostaglandins, for example, guard tissue from damage by the body's digestive juices, such as hydrochloric acid.
Dr. Bergstrom's research led to new treatments for ulcers and menstrual pain, as well as methods for accelerating difficult child births.
The hormones are now widely used in obstetrics and gynecology.
Dr. Bergstrom served for several years as a chemistry professor at Lund University in southern Sweden and at Stockholm's Karolinska Institute.
He chaired the Nobel Foundation from 1975 to 1987.
Dr. Bergstrom was also revered around the world for his work in developing nations as part of the World Health Organization.
''There is probably no scientist who has done as much to move out from basic science and into the area of public health, on a worldwide scale," Dr. David Hamburg of Harvard Medical School told The Boston Globe when Dr. Bergstrom was awarded the Nobel.
With prostaglandins playing a key role in regulating fertility, Dr. Bergstrom became interested in family planning in developing countries. That, in turn, led him into research on tropical diseases and problems of nutrition.
With the WHO, he established networks of thousands of scientists working in developing countries.
''Even without considering his work on prostaglandins," Hamburg said, ''he would deserve a Nobel prize for his work on the health problems of the developing world."