The Nobel Prize laureate Luc Montagnier has died at the age of 89.

Montagnier became the hero of the realm of homeopathy when he published findings suggesting that ultra-molecular dilutions are not just pure water but might have some activity. In this context, he has been mentioned repeatedly on this blog. During the years that followed his support for homeopathy, things got from bad to worse, and Montagnier managed to alienate most of the scientific community.

Amongst other things, he became a champion of the anti-vax movement, supported the view that vaccination causes autism, and argued that viral infections including HIV could be cured by diet. During the pandemic, he then claimed that Sars-CoV-2 had originated from a laboratory experiment attempting to combine coronavirus and HIV. On French television, he claimed that vaccination was an “enormous mistake” that would only promote the spread of new variants.

Before Montagnier became a victim of ‘Nobelitis‘, he had a brilliant career as a virologist in his world-famous Paris lab. A co-worker of Montagnier, Barré-Sinoussi, managed to isolate a retrovirus from an AIDS patient in 1983. They called it ‘lymphadenopathy-associated virus’, and concluded that it may be involved in several pathological syndromes, including AIDS.

Meanwhile, in the US, Gallo had identified a family of immunodeficiency retroviruses that he called human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV). In 1984, Gallo announced that one of these viruses was the cause of AIDS. The US government swiftly patented a blood test for detecting antibodies to it. Thus it became possible to screen for the virus in the blood.

When it became clear that material used in Gallo’s studies included samples that Montagnier had supplied in 1983, one of the fiercest rows in the history of science ensued. Eventually, negotiations between the two governments settled it by resolving that the two scientists should be equally credited. In 2002, Gallo and Montagnier published a joint paper acknowledging each other’s role: Montagnier’s team discovered HIV, and Gallo’s proved it caused AIDS. When Gallo was excluded from the Nobel prize given in 2008 to Montagnier and Barré-Sinoussi, the world of science was stunned. The spectacular dispute between Galo and Montagnier became the subject of a movie and several books.

Montagnier died on 8/2/2022 leaving behind his wife Dorothea and their three children, Anne-Marie, Francine, and Jean-Luc.

2 Responses to Luc Montagnier (1932 – 2022)

  • HIV virus?
    Retired clinical virologist.

    • “A retrovirus belonging to the family of recently discovered human T-cell leukemia viruses (HTLV), but clearly distinct from each previous isolate, has been isolated from a Caucasian patient with signs and symptoms that often precede the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).”
      — Barré-Sinoussi F, Chermann JC, Rey F, Nugeyre MT, Chamaret S, Gruest J, Dauguet C, Axler-Blin C, Vézinet-Brun F, Rouzioux C, Rozenbaum W, Montagnier L (1983). “Isolation of a T-lymphotropic retrovirus from a patient at risk for acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)”. Science. 220 (4599): 868–871

      It was not until French President François Mitterrand and American President Ronald Reagan met in person that the major issues were ironed out. The scientific protagonists finally agreed to share credit for the discovery of HIV, and in 1986, both the French and the US names (LAV and HTLV-III) were dropped in favor of the new term human immunodeficiency virus (virus de l’immunodéficience humaine, abbreviated HIV or VIH) (Coffin, 1986). They concluded that the origin of the HIV-1 Lai/IIIB isolate discovered by Gallo was the same as that discovered by Montagnier (but not known by Montagnier to cause AIDS). This compromise allowed Montagnier and Gallo to end their feud and collaborate with each other again, writing a chronology that appeared in Nature that year.

      On 29 November 2002 issue of Science, Gallo and Montagnier published a series of articles, one of which was co-written by both scientists, in which they acknowledged the pivotal roles that each had played in the discovery of HIV.
      END of QUOTE

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