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Montagnier hopes to have therapeutic vaccination for aids within five years

by Editorial Staff in Health & Body , 07 juni 2009

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar

In 2008 French professor Luc Montagnier received the Nobel Prize for medical science, together with Françoise Barré-Sinoussi for the discovery of the hiv-virus in 1983. He attended a conference on the future of biomedical research in the 21st century. We asked him a few questions.

Fewer and fewer youngsters are interested in exact sciences. What can we do to make it more attractive again?

Recently science has produced results that some find dubious for the advancement of humanity. The notion has taken hold that science is not strictly necessary for society and that’s not what young people get excited about. We lack a scientific culture, especially on tv compared with the United States.

What can we do to change this?

I believe you first have to show that science and especially medical science has brought us where we are today. Medical research is absolutely essential; it’s no luxury issue. We also will have to convince our policy makers.

When governments have to cut costs they always turn to research budgets first. Cutting those will not cause people to take to the streets for demonstrations, at least not in a hurry like in other areas.

Last year you received the Nobel prize for your research of hiv, together with Françoise Barré-Sinoussi. What do you think the European Union or parliament should undertake in the battle against aids?

Firstly we have to continue all running researches. We have not solved the problem: we cannot cure or prevent infections. Research needs to be innovative. It’s my opinion that a lot of money has been wasted - not just by the EU but in the whole world - on research after a preventative vaccine, based on faulty theories.

My project: finding a therapeutic vaccine instead of a preventative one, is suffering from a lack of attention and funding, the EU has rejected research for a therapeutic vaccine because people think it’s unethical to halt the combination therapy to test a vaccine. But this is precisely the direction we should be taking. Fortunately this idea is gaining ground in the United States.

On the other hand it’s also necessary to try to identify that part of the virus that makes it resistant to combination therapy.

When do you think we’ll have a therapeutic vaccine?

Within four or five years after we can start, from when we get funding. It’s a well-defined project: we know exactly what we want to do and unlike with the preventative vaccine we can test the effectiveness with a small number of patients.



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