Medicine Nobel "Settles" Feud Regarding HIV's Discovery
We all know that HIV leads to AIDS. For the last 25 years, however, there's been some controversy over who exactly figured that out. The awarding of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine yesterday may settle that feud.In May 1983, French researchers Luc Montagnier and Francoise Barre-Sinoussi of Paris' Pasteur Institute published their discovery of a virus called lymphodenopathy associated virus (LAV) and its link to AIDS. Nearly a year later, National Cancer Institute researcher Robert Gallo isolated a virus he called human T-cell leukemia virus III (HTLV-III), which he said led to AIDS.The two viruses were the same: the virus now known as HIV. (Turns out, Gallo's lab received samples of the French virus, mistakenly used it in their own experiments and made a parallel discovery.) What followed was the usual contention over who got credit … and more importantly which country would get the cash-money from the test developed to diagnose HIV infection in 1986.The official decision up until now was to call it a tie-as agreed to by President Ronald Reagan and French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac.The Nobel committee disagreed, giving half of the medicine prize to Montagnier and Barre-Sinoussi. (German cancer researcher Harald zur Hausen took the other half for his 1976 discovery that human papilloma virus causes cervical cancer.) Gallo got nada. Montagnier said Gallo "deserved this as much as us two." Gallo released a statement thanking Montagnier for his "kind" words.In related news, the physics prize was awarded to Yoichiro Nambu of the University of Chicago and Japanese scientists Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Maskawa today for their work on "broken symmetry," which may help explain how the universe survived after the Big Bang-or something else that will make the Large Hadron Collider useful.