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Nobel prize for viral discoveries; French researchers win Nobel for HIV discovery, Gallo not mentioned
 
 
  Harald zur Hausen, a German scientist who linked human papilloma virus (HPV) to cervical cancer, shares this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine French researchers Francoise Barre-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier, who discovered HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
 
zur Hausen's work paved the way for Merck's vaccine Gardasil.
 
Notably, but perhaps unsurprisingly, the Nobels did not recognize Robert Gallo for his role in the discovery of HIV.
 
BBC.com
 
The scientists who discovered HIV will share the Nobel prize for medicine with the expert who linked human papilloma virus (HPV) to cervical cancer.
 
French team Francoise Barre-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier were recognised for their groundbreaking work in uncovering the virus responsible for Aids.
 
Harald zur Hausen, from Germany, received the prize for making the link between HPV and cervical cancer.
 
More than 25 million people have died of HIV/Aids since 1981.
 
"Never before has science and medicine been so quick to discover, identify the origin and provide treatment for a new disease entity"
 
The Nobel Assembly about the discovery of HIV
 
Globally, more than 33 million people are living with HIV.
 
Following medical reports of a new immunodeficiency syndrome in 1981, Professor Barre-Sinoussi, of the Institut Pasteur, and Dr Montagnier, director of the World Foundation for AIDS Research and Prevention, were the first to identify HIV as the culprit.
 
In its citation, the Nobel Assembly said their discovery was vital in enabling scientists to begin to understand the biology of a virus which continued to pose a huge public health threat throughout the globe.
 
Major advances
 
Their work led to the development of methods to diagnose infected patients and to screen blood products, which has limited the spread of the pandemic.
 
It has also led to new treatments.
 
There is still no cure for HIV. However, for many the disease is no longer an imminent death sentence thanks to the major advances in research and drug development over recent years.
 
In a statement, the Nobel Assembly said the work of Mr Barre-Sinousi and Mr Montagnier made rapid cloning of the HIV-1 genome possible.
 
With treatment, people with HIV can live for decades with the condition.
 
"This has allowed identification of important details in its replication cycle and how the virus interacts with its host. Furthermore, it led to development of methods to diagnose infected patients and to screen blood products, which has limited the spread of the pandemic," the assembly said.
 
However, HIV medicines are not widely available in many poor countries around the world.
 
The citation said: "Never before has science and medicine been so quick to discover, identify the origin and provide treatment for a new disease entity.
 
"Successful anti-retroviral therapy results in life expectancies for persons with HIV infection now reaching levels similar to those of uninfected people."
 
Nick Partridge of the HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust said: "Francoise Barre-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier are very deserving winners of the Noble Prize for Medicine. Their work was hugely significant, leading to enormous progress in the understanding and treatment of HIV."
 
Both Dr Montagnier and a US researcher Richard Gallo are co-credited with discovering that HIV causes Aids, although for several years they staked rival claims that led to a legal and even diplomatic dispute between France and America.
 
The Nobel jury made no mention of Gallo in its citation.
 
Vaccines developed
 
Professor zur Hausen, of the University of Duesseldorf, was praised by the Nobel committee for going "against current dogma" to discover that HPV infection caused cervical cancer.
 
In praising the work of Mr zur Hausen, the assembly claimed the German scientist had "demonstrated novel properties of HPV that have led to an understanding of mechanisms for papilloma virus-induced carcinogenesis and the predisposing factors for viral persistence and cellular transformation.
 
"He made HPV16 and 18 available to the scientific community. Vaccines were ultimately developed that provide a 95 per cent protection from infection by the high risk HPV16 and 18 types. The vaccines may also reduce the need for surgery and the global burden of cervical cancer."
 
Around 3,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year
 
HPV can be detected in 99.7% of all women with cervical cancer, and persistent infection with the virus is estimated to be responsible for more than 5% of all cancers worldwide.
 
Professor zur Hausen's work helped others to develop vaccines against HPV, which are now routinely given to millions of teenage girls in many countries to prevent cervical cancer.
 
Professor zur Hausen, 72, received half of the prize with Professor Barre-Sinoussi, 61, and Dr Montagnier, 76, splitting the other half.
 
 
 
 
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