Barnes, Deborah M. and Hooper, Celia. "New BRUhaha Over AIDS Virus Raises Larger
Questions," The Journal of NIH Research, 3 (April, 1991), pp. 35-36.
The flap between Gallo and Montagnier as to priority in the discovery of the AIDS virus
continues. Here is a summary statement of the recent goings on: Gallo and colleagues published a
recent article in Nature (28 February 1991) in which Gallo claims to demonstrate that his isolate,
HTLV-IIIB, is not related to Montagnier's BRU. To Gallo, the differences between the isolates is
so great that they could not have resulted from contamination.
In March, Montagnier rejoins in Science (15 March) saying that Gallo did not use standard
techniques in determining genetic differences between the two. If he had, the two samples would
have been shown to have been very close.
The dispute continues, as it has since 1984 or so. In 1987, the two governments signed an
agreement which supposedly ended the dispute but, of course, it has not. Now other issues are
being raised: what is the best method of determining measures of the sort that Gallo has
attempted? AIDS researchers do not have completely standardized procedures. Different
laboratory methods raise questions which are truly nettlesome regarding the treatment of patients,
too. Then, too, it is well known that viruses do change genetically and do so very quickly: what,
therefore, constitutes an identification?
The OSI's investigation of Gallo continues.