Seven decades ago chemists at the University of Birmingham became the first in the world to develop a synthetic version of vitamin C.
Professor Norman Haworth's work in creating an artificial version of the naturally occurring chemical opened the way for the vitamin C to be used in countless medicines and supplements across the world.
Haworth's groundbreaking research at the School of Chemistry is still commemorated on campus, with the School of Chemistry's current home named in his honour.
Today, scientists at the university are using cutting edge science to find new weapons - including the common cold virus - in the fight against cancer.
This new generation of targeted cancer treatment includes using viruses to target cancer cells or the body's immune system to fight the disease. Perhaps surprisingly the common cold virus is proving a useful tool in attacking cancer cells. Researchers have developed a genetically modified version of the virus to target and kill tumour cells.
Rather than delivering a drug, the virus acts as a method of delivering proteins that cause cancer cells to die. The technique targets one molecule called CD40, which is present in many common tumours including breast, liver and skin cancers.
The modified virus contains a protein that will bind to the CD40 on the surface of cancer cell causing it to die. Using a modified form of the cold virus to deliver the genetic material also seems to help stimulate a natural immune response to tumours.
Professor Lawrence Young is leading several projects looking at new ways of tackling cancer.
"There have been some major improvements in cancer treatment in the last decade, with new chemotherapy drugs becoming available, but here at Birmingham we are interested in developing a new generation of treatments that will be much more targeted for individual patients," he said.
"By using viruses or the body's immune system we are trying to target treatment directly to the cancer cells. This should mean fewer side effects, as well as allowing doctors to combine these new approached with existing treatments."
Another team working in Birmingham is interested in using vaccines to activate the body's immune system to attack cancer cells.
Dr Neil Steven is leading one of the first trials looking at one new vaccine that could be used in treating a number of tumours.
"If you look at cells in several cancers, you will find they are infected with a common virus called Epstein Barr Virus," he said. "Almost everyone has the EBV in their systems and the virus causes no health problems. But because cancer cells can be infected with the virus this gives us a target for a vaccine that could help treat the cancer.
"The vaccine isn't designed to stop people becoming infected with EBV, but to try and activate the immune system to attack cancer cells infected with the virus."