French scientists Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier, who discovered the HIV virus, will split this year’s Nobel Prize for medicine with another German scientist Harald zur Hausen, who discovered that the HPV virus facilitates cervical cancer in women.
The Guardian reports: “Barré-Sinoussi and Montagnier, who were both at the Institute Pasteur in Paris in the early 1980s, were the victors in a scientific race to identify the causative agent behind a novel immunodeficiency syndrome that had emerged in 1981. To find out what was causing AIDS, the researchers cultured cells from swollen lymph nodes collected from patients in the early stages of disease. In 1983 they found particles of a retrovirus – now known as HIV – budding from the cells. Around 33 million people are now infected with HIV. Barré-Sinoussi and Montagnier have long been in the frame for a medicine Nobel, but many observers had expected the American scientist Prof Robert Gallo to be jointly honoured for his role in the virus’s discovery.