Nobel medicine prize shared

Two French scientists who discovered the AIDS virus and a German who found the virus that causes cervical cancer were awarded the 2008 Nobel prize for medicine or physiology today.





Luc Montagnier, director of the World Foundation for AIDS Research and Prevention, and Francoise Barre-Sinoussi of the Institut Pasteur won half the prize of 10 million kronor (£800,000) for discovering the deadly virus that has killed millions of people since it was identified in the 1980s.



Harald zur Hausen of the University of Duesseldorf and a former director of the German Cancer Research Centre shared the other half of the prize for work that went against the current dogma as to the cause of cervical cancer.



"The three laureates have discovered two new viruses of great importance and the result of that has led to an improved global health," said Jan Andersson, a member of the Nobel Assembly at Sweden's Karolinska Institute.



"We have reached two of the laureates, the two men, and they were both very, very happy. As far as I know Francoise has not yet been reached," Andersson told a news conference.



The award marks a vote for Montagnier in a long-running dispute over who discovered and identified the virus, Montagnier or Dr. Robert Gallo, then of the US National Cancer Institute.



Montagnier and Gallo each accused the other of working with contaminated samples and it took a meeting of two presidents - then Jacques Chirac of France and Ronald Reagan of the United States - to persuade the National Institutes of Health and the Institut Pasteur to share royalties for the discovery and for the two researchers to agree to share the credit in 1987.



When Montagnier and Barre-Sinoussi began their research in the early 1980s, a hitherto undocumented immune deficiency syndrome began striking down victims in the west.



The institute said the French researchers isolated and cultured cells from patients with swollen lymph nodes characteristic of the early stage of acquired immune deficiency.



By 1984, they had obtained samples of the retrovirus from a variety of people. These included people who had been infected from sexual contact, haemophiliacs, patients who had received blood transfusions and infants who had contracted the disease from their mothers.



The researchers found the virus infected and killed lymphocytes from both diseased and healthy donors and reacted with antibodies from infected patients. Their findings also helped explain how HIV impaired the immune system.









Zur Hausen was recognised for research based on his idea that oncogenic human papilloma virus, or HPV, caused cervical cancer, the second most common cancer among women.



Zur Hausen, who began his research in the 1970s, assumed that if HPV was causing the cancer it should be possible to detect it by searching tumour cells for a specific viral DNA.



For 10 years, zur Hausen searched for different human papilloma virus types, detecting them in cervix cancer biopsies. The virus types he found, and later cloned, are found in about 70 per cent of cervical cancer biopsies around the world.



"More than 5 per cent of all cancers worldwide are caused by persistent infection with this virus," the Nobel assembly said.



An estimated 500,000 women are diagnosed with the disease each year and about 300,000 die from it, mostly in the developing world. Merck & Co's Gardasil and GlaxoSmithKline's Cervarix are vaccines that protect against some strains of the virus.



Medicine is traditionally the first of the Nobel prizes awarded each year. The prizes for achievement in science, literature and peace were first awarded in 1901 in accordance with the will of dynamite inventor and businessman Alfred Nobel. An economics prize was established in 1968.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Qualified Primary Teaching Assistant

£64 - £73 per day + Competitive rates based on experience : Randstad Education...

Primary KS2 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam