Scientist who discovered HIV thinks it can still be beaten

An eminent HIV researcher says achieving remission from the virus is still possible.

French virologist Francoise Barre Sinoussi is retiring from active research this year, more than 30 years after her fundamental work confirmed the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) as the cause of AIDS.

The scientist, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2008 alongside her former mentor for her pioneering work, spoke to Reuters about progress in the field of HIV research.

She said that while a complete cure for HIV is is unlikely in her lifetime, it is possible that researchers will find the key to remission – where patients’ bodies can learn to regulate HIV by themselves.

The scientist said: “I am personally convinced that remission is achievable. When? I don’t know. But it is feasible.”

Referring to an early promising trial, she said: “We have ‘proof of concept’. We havethe famous Visconti patients, treated very early on.

“Now it is more than 10 years since they stopped their treatment and they are still doing very well, most of them.”

Of her retirement, she said: “I would love to have stopped and to see we had a vaccine against HIV and another treatment that could induce remission – but that’s life. I encourage the new generation of scientists today to continue our work.

“Science never stops. Just because a scientist stops, the science should not stop.”

There are several strands of medical research investigating potential revolutionary HIV cures, treatments and prevention techniques.

Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates recently donated $6 million to help find a vaccine for HIV.

The institute he donated to is working on an innovative new procedure, that could ‘teach’ the immune system to fight HIV by delivering genes into muscle cells.