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HIV Discoverer Luc Montagnier Dead at 89

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The New York Times reports.His discovery was important but not without controversy. The deadly disease that had first surfaced in 1981 and was eventually given the name of AIDS, for acquired immune deficiency syndrome, was devastating gay and bisexual men, along with certain other populations, but its cause remained mysterious for some time.Some scientists, however, suspected it was caused by a retrovirus, “a kind of germ that slips into the host cell’s DNA and takes control, in a reversal of the way viruses typically work; hence the name retro,” the Times notes.Montagnier, an expert on retroviruses, and his team at the Pasteur Institute did research in 1983 on a lymph node that had been removed from a person with AIDS.

That year, they announced that in the tissue sample they had found a new retrovirus, which they called lymphadenopathy associated virus, which they believed was the cause of AIDS, but they cautioned that more research was needed.In 1984, an American lab run by Dr.

Robert Gallo reported its scientists had confirmed that a retrovirus, which they called HTLV-III, was associated with AIDS. There was some initial confusion as to whether it was a different virus or the same one Montagnier identified, and when it was found that Gallo’s group used a sample from the same person, there were accusations that he had obtained the virus from the Pasteur Institute.Montagnier then sued Gallo, alleging the American had used the French team’s research to get a U.S.

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