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(dob - )
Year of Discovery: 1989
Discovers New AIDS Drug
Dionne is a talented chemist. Following graduation, he worked for several years as a research scientist with Ayerst Laboratories. Then, when Ayerst relocated its operations to the United States, Dionne accepted a position as a research scientist group leader with a research company associated with the University of Quebec. During the two years he spent there, he developed a strong bond with two fellow researchers, Francesco Bellini and Bernard Belleau. The trio formed their own drug-development company and began work on the anti-AIDS drug 3TC. The drug was a major success, proving to be effective in fighting AIDS and having fewer side effects than the then current treatment, AZT. The introduction of 3TC was a significant advance in the fight against AIDS, and is credited with saving over 2 million lives.
Human immunodeficiency virus originated in West Africa, with the first confirmed case being recorded in 1959. The virus slowly spread across Africa and then, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, exploded throughout other parts of the world. HIV is the underlying cause of AIDS, a disease that attacks the immune system, and is passed from person to person through contact with bodily fluids. As AIDS progresses, individuals become less able to ward off infections and get sick from things that a normal healthy immune system would easily fight off. Health officials initially thought the disease was limited to homosexual men living in large metropolitan areas. But, they quickly discovered that both hemophiliacs and heterosexual intravenous drug users were also being infected. A French physician, Luc Montagnier, initially discovered that the underlying cause of AIDS was a retrovirus, a virus capable of reprogramming the body with a defective genetic code. This was a major breakthrough, allowing other scientists to develop treatments, and AZT became the first drug approved to fight AIDS.
Introduction by Tim Anderson
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