Nobel Prize winner addresses advances in HIV/AIDS research


by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and photojournalist JOHN GUSKY

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Posted on October 8, 2012 at 5:46 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 8 at 6:01 PM

AUSTIN -- The man who first identified the virus that causes HIV/AIDS addressed physicians from all over Texas at the Scott & White scientific research gathering at The Driskill Hotel Monday. The subject was significant breakthroughs that may be on the way in AIDS research.

Luc Montagnier, M.D., a virologist, was awarded the 2008 Nobel Prize for the discovery of the virus that causes HIV/AIDS. Montagnier says while there still is no vaccine or cure, researchers may be closing in on a significant breakthrough.

"The main problem now is to identify what we call the 'reservoir,'" said Montagnier. "(It's) the part of the virus that resists the treatment."

Montagnier says currently stopping treatment, even for a few days or weeks, can result in the virus coming back.

"Indicating it is still hiding somewhere, in some viral forms," said Montagnier.

Montagnier says researchers may have identified at least one part of this form in DNA.

"It's viral DNA inside the blood and the blood cells," said Montagnier.

Montagnier says the new research could open the way to new types of treatment or add to treatments already being used.

"It would mean instead of treating patients for the rest of their life, we can reduce the treatment to a small amount of time," said Montagnier.

Montagnier was one of four leading HIV/AIDS researchers at the Scott & White event.

"I think this combination of speakers will give to the physicians the leading edge on where we are with the disease," said Karen Newell Rogers, Ph.D., in microbiology and immunology. "We can also learn what to look for in terms of signs of inflammation and problems with their patients that they might not have noted before."

In addition to Montagnier, researchers specializing in pediatric AIDS as well as gender-based AIDS also addressed the physicians on hand.